May 19th, 2014
01:54 PM ET
7 months ago

Police commissioner in N.H. town resigns over Obama slur

(CNN) - A small-town police commissioner in New Hampshire, who originally said he wouldn't apologize for calling President Barack Obama the n-word, resigned on Monday.

Joseph Balboni, Police Commission chairman of Wolfeboro, confirmed to CNN that he received a resignation email from Robert Copeland.

"Dear Commission Chairman Balboni, I resign," wrote Copeland in the email.

Copeland resignation letter 1

Last Thursday, Copeland, 82, sat with his arms crossed at a packed town meeting while a crowd of angry residents in the predominantly white town called for his resignation.

Copeland acknowledged in an email to his fellow police commissioners that he used the racial slur to describe Obama.

Jane O'Toole, who moved to Wolfeboro four months ago, said she overheard Copeland use the word at a restaurant in March.

"It's not like I was eavesdropping. Mr. Copeland was being very loud," O'Toole told CNN affiliate WMUR.

She wrote to the town manager about the incident, and Copeland replied with a letter to O'Toole.

"I believe I did use the 'N' word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse (sic)," Copeland wrote. "For this, I do not apologize - he meets and exceeds my criteria for such."

Copeland was one of three members of the police commission, which hires, fires and disciplines officers and sets their salaries.

Two months ago he ran unopposed for re-election and secured another three-year term.

Wolfeboro, located in the scenic Lakes Region in the central part of New Hampshire, has around 20 African-American residents among its population of 6,300. The town was often a dateline in news reports during the 2012 presidential election, with GOP Mitt Romney spending time with family and campaign aides at his vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Over the weekend Romney called on Copeland to apologize and resign.

"The vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community: He should apologize and resign," Romney said in a statement provided to CNN

CNN's Yon Pomrenze, Stephanie Gallman, Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report


Filed under: Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • President Obama
soundoff (714 Responses)
  1. Anna

    Seriously? How can there be that many people who actually know how to read who believe "freedom of speech" means: 1. If you say something offensive, society is supposed to ignore it. (As if that ever happened in the past in this country on a regular basis. And let's see what the reaction would be if a black government official said he thinks white people are disgusting. You think the same racists who believe this little faux paux should be ignored would feel the same way then?)
    2. The First Amendment protect all people from any and all consequences of all forms of speech. (Here's a hint: It only protects against government censorship of the speech of private persons). 3. Free speech prevents the public from reacting to and censoring disgusting and outrageous speech on the part of private and public persons by doing things like holding recall elections, using contract provisions to force them to resign or sell, or hiding boycotts or protests.
    Sorry, racists. Your hate speech is not as protected as you think.

    May 19, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. 68driver57

    This is what you get when you elect octegenarians to run things. "Set in their ways" they will always stick with the values that got them to where they are. 30 years ago, this attitude might have been overlooked, times change, pervasive attitudes change, elected officials need to represent the prevailing sentiment, not what they may have believed as teenagers which in this case was over 70 years ago. Retire already! your generation has screwed thing up quite enough, give the rest of us a chance to fix it.

    May 19, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. Ladokguy

    Hey Flossie, it wasn't a private conversation, he was being quite loud and didn't care if people heard him.

    May 19, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. Bill from GA

    jayne n montana -"... what happened to free speech? where is it ok for one black to call another black the dreaded N word and yet white cant do that? this is a double standard"

    Sure, it's a double standard. Blacks can even use racist comments toward whites.But if they are a public figure (entertainers excepted) they may face consequences.

    What irks me is that black entertainers make millions promoting racist attitudes, and violence. Their reward. They get to pal around with the President.

    May 19, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. Name don848

    I'd really like to know what his criteria is for applying this vile word to the President.

    May 19, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. edwardst35

    If this man said this same thing in the 1940'as through the 1950's he would not be sanctioned nor would he be asked to resign his elected office. Mr Copeland is of that era and that should be noted!

    May 19, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  7. Los

    So many closet racists on this thread. Regardless of what you hear it is never appropriate to use the N word especially if you are an elected official. If you feel that way in private and want to spew racists views great but your employer doesn't have to agree with your racist views. Bye bye

    May 19, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. sly

    Ho ho ho - ol' racist was forced to resign by the Liberal Mitt Romney.

    Wow - what happened to Republicans about 10 years ago that caused them all to go senile?

    May 19, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. Bill

    It's sad to see people as ignorant of what the First Amendment means as most gunlovers are of what the Second Amendment means. The First Amendment provides Americans the protection of freedom of speech (as well as freedom of religion and of the press) in so much that it prohibits the government from enacting any law that limits it. It does not protect people from consequences of their speech, including termination of employment, loss of a basketball franchise, etc. It ONLY prevents the government from passing laws that limits our freedom of speech. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

    As far as this clown goes, good riddance. It's appalling that anyone – especially an elected law enforcement official – would not only use that word, but defend the use of it, let alone in referencing the President of the United States, regardless of what party that president is affiliated in. There is no justification to either the use of the word nor the use of it towards the president, and anyone who really thinks what this old fool did is even remotely justified lacks any sense of patriotism or love for this country.

    May 19, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  10. pitt04

    Wow.....It took Mitt Romey to say something.....I was a little girl was Kennedy was President, but honestly, I have never heard of ANY President, called so many derogatory names, and get so many death threats as Barack Obama. This only proves that racism, as only been suppressed; for the last 50 years.

    May 19, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  11. Tracy

    Jayne n montana – I whole heartedly agree with your stance here! We live in a too PC world and everyone wants to act like they have a gripe about something or other! Make them resign!! Such BS!!! Look at all the crap our elected officials get away with!! As you said, you can't legislate morality!

    May 19, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. ShawnDH

    d whined: "Let's just hope Putin doesn't call Obama the N word. He might go to war over that."
    _________________

    What are you talking about? Did Obama even comment on this? No. Grow up.

    May 19, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Thatguy371

    Good riddance to this bigoted loser.

    May 19, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. pleazenufalready

    Anonymous

    Using the 'N' word does NOT necessarily mean someone is a racist. Obama deserves to be referred to by the most condescending word possible. The N word is proper if used to describe that man.
    May 19, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
    ---------------------------------------
    Ay yes, you were so proud of your ridiculous comment that you signed it "Anonymous" ....my, my....so pathetic

    May 19, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  15. kbs

    what a loser

    May 19, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. rs

    Flossie

    It's gonna take some getting use to. Americans can no longer have private thoughts or conversations. Wow...
    _____________________
    Yup, a powerful public official using hate speech in a restaurant to describe the President of the United States. What about that is "private" for you?

    May 19, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. Jim

    I guess his pride was more important than his job. We all have our own opinions, but it's best to keep them to ourselves unless they offer some sort of solution to a problem. His opinion offered no solution – only hatred.

    May 19, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. formermarinesgt

    @ezra

    Freedom of Speech and thought does not exist in the modern liberal world unless they say it
    -----------
    It is pathetic that you can't tell the difference between preventing free speech and taking the responsibility for the blow back when you inappropriately use your right to free speech.

    NO ONE is preventing him from saying or thinking what he wants. HOWEVER – NO ONE is required to allow him to say that AND allow him to continue to have his public service job.

    Everyone who was thoroughly disgusted by his comments used their own rights to free speech in responding to the vile comments. Not one person nor the government are preventing him from saying it again. However, we also have the right to free association in this country. And we simply chose to NOT associate with racist and hateful jerks like him.

    He's not been arrested for saying what he did.
    He's not been taken to court to prevent him from ever being able to say it again.
    He's not had his tongue removed to prevent him from saying it again.

    His rights HAVE NOT been impacted in any way.

    May 19, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. edwardst35

    Had this same statement been made in the 1940's through the 1950's it would not have caused a problem nor would the man be asked to resign. Readers must be made aware that Mr Copeland is of that era! NEW and YOUNGER people of today MUST recognize that the older people of that era were less tolerant which is not against the law back then. In America especially one should have the RIGHT to determine whom they wish to associate with and NOT associate with. That is also part of the Equal Rights philosophy. Mr Copeland simply said, in his own 1940's way, he did not wish to associate with Mr Obama!

    May 19, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Kimo

    Good for Mitt.

    May 19, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. G Money

    Now let's make them close down that racist exhibition of Africans in that Human Zoo in Norway.

    May 19, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. Vijay

    Thank god finally this idiotttttttttttt resign...

    May 19, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. James

    "I resign" ...to be a knobhead.
    happy trails old timer, try to stay away from the natives.

    May 19, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. ALLuh

    Good, now get in a box already

    May 19, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. karo

    the phrase, "the N word", is now just as offensive and derogatory as the actual word that the "N" represents. We are forced to say it in our minds as soon as someone says that phrase. Not to mention saying the phrase "the N word" just appears like a bunch of elementary kids telling on someone for using a curse word. "Ugly" is pretty damn offensive too when someone calls you that. SHould we start saying "the U word". See? Ridiculous I tell you.

    May 19, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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