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Right-Wing Speaker Comes To UM Amid Protests

Protesters gathered outside of the Jeff Cole Distinguished Lecture at the University of Montana on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night controversial right-wing speaker Mike Adams gave a lecture at the University of Montana.

Adams, a professor of criminal justice at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, was brought to Missoula by a conservative donor to UM’s School of Journalism. Maria Cole supports the Jeff Cole Distinguished Lecture Series, named for her late husband, who was a journalist.

The series is typically sponsored by the university’s School of Journalism. This year the school’s dean, Larry Abramson, objected to Adams and pulled the School’s sponsorship.

UM President Seth Bodnar issued a statement Monday saying,  "It is possible for us to stand firmly in support of free speech while also standing firm in our values."

Ethan Holmes is a University of Montana student attending the event.

"I’m here to see Mike Adams," Holmes said. "I’m glad that he’s giving a speech here on campus because I think he brings some diverse viewpoints that aren’t normally expressed here. I'm excited to see how people interpret them and how we have a dialogue on campus following the event."

Sam Duncan came to protest the event.

"To have someone invite this speaker here is hurtful and encourages this kind of perspective and speech in our community and I don’t think that for any f***ing reason we should invite people with these perspectives here," said Duncan. "That sends the message that you support these views and that they are welcome here, and I would hope that they are not."

There was a substantial police presence outside the theater where Adams was speaking. A crowd of 20 to 30 protesters stood out front holding signs and chanted in objection to his appearance.

Credit Beau Baker
A disclaimer near the entrance of the Dennison Theater on the University of Montana campus, where Jeff Cole Distinguished Lecturer Mike Adams spoke.

Beau is a former Morning Edition host and producer and engineer for the MTPR program "Capitol Talk." He worked as a reporter, and hosted Freeforms once a month.
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