Shortly after midnight on May 8, a man slipped into an administration building at Johns Hopkins University with a pair of bolt cutters. In a dark stairwell, he got to work, sweating through his shirt as he struggled to cut through the metal chains attached to a first-floor door.
The man was a professor at the university, and he was trying to wrest the building from student protesters who had occupied it for more than a month. Before long, the students ejected the professor, Daniel Povey, 43, from the building.
This week, Johns Hopkins kicked him off the faculty, too. His firing will be effective at the end of the month, according to a copy of the termination letter, which Mr. Povey posted on his website along with a 2,200-word retort.
Andrew S. Douglas, the vice dean for faculty, wrote in the letter that Mr. Povey, an assistant research professor in the Whiting School of Engineering, had “endangered the university community” by forcibly entering the building after the university had told him not to.
Students and their supporters occupied Garland Hall for 34 days in protest of a proposed private campus police force and contracts the university has with federal immigration authorities.
Mr. Povey wrote on his website that the students had scratched him as they took him out of the building. He also wrote that he faced more serious consequences than the students — who he noted had also entered the building without permission — because Johns Hopkins feared being accused of racism. He said he had tried to take the building back from the students in part because a computer server that hosted his research was inside and malfunctioning.
Hours after Mr. Povey tried to get into Garland Hall, the police cleared the building and arrested seven protesters, but the city’s top prosecutor later dropped all charges against them.
Mr. Povey, who specialized in speech recognition, said he believed he could not receive a fair hearing at the university because he was white and many of the protesters were black or transgender.
White men, Mr. Povey wrote, are expected to care about every demographic group except for their own, “like a neutered puppy-dog or some Justin Trudeau man-child.”
In an email to The New York Times on Saturday, Mr. Povey said he had accepted a new job at Facebook in Seattle but expected he would be fired.
“I fully expect to get fired from Facebook too as a consequence of the publicity around this, but I can line up other options,” he said.
The mood was tense inside Garland Hall that night in May. Protesters had locked university officials out of the building, and administrators had offered students amnesty if they left. Students heard rumors that the police were planning to raid the building early in the morning.
Then, at about 12:30 a.m., they saw Mr. Povey walking toward the brick building with bolt cutters, flanked by six other people whom he has declined to identify to the university.
“It was pretty terrifying to see him at the top of the stairs and not know who he is,” said Andrea Fraser, 27, a graduate student who joined the sit-in. “Our first question was, ‘Who are you?’”
Protesters said Mr. Povey grabbed a student’s hair and another student’s arm after making his way into an entryway to try to cut the chains on an interior door. One of the men who students said arrived with Mr. Povey can be seen punching a protester in a video taken by sit-in supporters.
Vikram Chandrashekhar, 24, the graduate student who was punched, said students did not know that the man with the bolt cutters was a professor until after he had left.
“It was a shock, to say the least,” he said.
Asked about the firing, Jill Rosen, a Johns Hopkins spokeswoman, said the university could not comment on an individual case, but that a “troubling incident” in early May had led to an investigation.
“Based on the undisputed facts of the case, the University took interim and now permanent action to ensure the safety and well-being of the community,” Ms. Rosen said.
Johns Hopkins’s Office of Institutional Equity is continuing to investigate claims that Mr. Povey was violent, was “motivated by racially discriminatory animus and created a hostile environment,” according to Mr. Douglas, the vice dean for faculty.
Mr. Povey said he did not want his position to be misrepresented. He said he does not believe white people are always discriminated against all the time, just “specifically in the context of university campus politics and protests.”
“I may have a much easier time hailing a taxi, for instance,” he said.