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North Carolina professor found dead weeks after backlash over "slave state" tweets

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Authorities on Thursday discovered the body of a white North Carolina professor who recently announced his retirement amid backlash over his comments on social media, in which he called the state's governor "Massa Cooper" and compared coronavirus restrictions to living in a "slave state." Lieutenant J.J. Brewer of the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office said deputies found the body of University of North Carolina-Wilmington professor Mike Adams, 55, while performing a wellness check at his home, CBS affiliate WNCN reports.

Deputies were conducting a death investigation, but investigators did not release additional details about the circumstances of Adams' death.

Adams, a tenured sociology and criminology professor, was due to retire early on Aug. 1. He recently reached a $504,702 settlement with the university for lost salary and lost retirement benefits.

In 2016, Adams posted an article about a student activist under the title "A 'Queer Muslim' Jihad," The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

Another controversy occurred in late May when Adams tweeted about the executive order limiting social gatherings signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper during the coronavirus pandemic. Adams tweeted that he dined with six men at a six-seat table and "felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina." He then wrote: "Massa Cooper, let my people go!"

The tweets, which the university denounced as "vile," prompted more than 60,000 people to sign an online petition to get Adams fired from his job.

The petition cited Adams' "bullying a student into transferring to an inflammatory Twitter account that contains threats towards minorities and those exercising their first amendment rights."

WNCN reports the university released a statement Thursday night, which reads in part: "It is with sadness that we share the news that the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office is conducting a death investigation involving Dr. Mike Adams, professor of criminology. Please keep his friends and loved ones in your thoughts." 

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