May 19th, 2014
01:54 PM ET
6 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. SkepticalOne

    Such an eloquent letter of resignation. This angry old guy didn't have two brain cells left in his head. He had no business in a position of authority.

    May 19, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. rs

    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.
    ______________________
    Well said, Bill. The one remaining point for me that is at least alarming is that those on the Right who apparently think this sort of talk is appropriate, are clearly holding a very sick and damaging view of our law enforcement community in America.

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

    i wonder when these idiot republican tea party folks are going to realize that the confederacy will never rise again. hopefully they will all die off sometime in our generation.

    May 19, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Robert Gemerek

    We don't need small minded people like this is positions of authority.....while it does worry me a bit that "the N word" is taking on a life of its own.....its hard to say we have freedom of speech if theirs one word that white people can't say....to complicate matters even more, black people are allowed to say it even if they're more white then black. Its worrisome that people are being punished, losing jobs, and having reputations destroyed for being overheard saying a bad word once. You can't base a persons character on a single word, no matter how bad its meaning or history. Its truly insane, especially when people get away with using racist names for other ethnic groups but only the N word gets a strong response. I wish this stupid word would go away so we can worry about more important things then differences of race. Now if your caught enslaving somebody then we can all be shocked and shun you forever as the media spotlight obliterates your reputation and name but all this fuss over a single word is just too much....as my mom used to say "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"

    May 19, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. Robert Gemerek

    sticks and stones may break my bones but the N word will never hurt me

    May 19, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. Pander Bear

    He's now poised to become a Tea Party favorite along side Cliven Bundy. Ignorance and hatred abound in the RWNJ world.

    May 19, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. Caig Livingstone

    One more Irish-Bigot brought into the REAL world. He must not be aware that in NYC 100-years ago the signs in Bars/Cafe's etc read in this order ...

    No DOGS
    No COLOREDS
    No IRISH!

    May 19, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. Bill from GA

    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross..... – " I can't imagine being black in that town. Shuffling around with your head down just trying not to be noticed."

    The blacks in that area are probably millionaires from Boston with million dollar houses on the lake. Nobody forces blacks to live in an area like that, or, for that matter, any place specifically. They live there by choice.

    Maybe you need to imagine a world different from Detroit. Maybe you need to leave Detroit.

    May 19, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Actually Bill from GA blacks use that word to describe any and everybody. Black, white, green or purple. We took a derogatory term used by whites to oppress and made it a term of endearment. Now personally, I don't say it much anymore. But it is used and it definitely doesn't have the same meaning as it has when used by whites. Take the ME guy that owns the gas station by my house. He and all of his friends, black and ME call each other my Enn. It's not what you say it's how you say it.

    May 19, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. edwardst35

    There is never any sense in making a personal comment on this political site because they don't believe in FREE SPEECH. If you make a comment it will await moderation because this site does not recognize FREE SPEECH unless you are a person of color!

    May 19, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Sergio

    Guy can say whatever he wants. There isn't a member of that town that hasn't used the word or said it in private. And anyone that disagree's with that is a liar.

    May 19, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. ug

    Jeesh! 82 year old police commissioner...dude go retire and move on...never apologize for what is the truth though.

    May 19, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. shiboof

    Good riddance to bad garbage.

    May 19, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. BMc

    Another older person with some outdated opinions about race. What a surprise.

    May 19, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. Geezer

    Another one bites the dust-Good. Goodbye ole racist making a living off the taxpayers. Some fools never learn.

    May 19, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "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."

    Riiiiight, because "ugly" has a couple hundred years of history and meaning behind it just like the "n word"?

    May 19, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. Citizen

    Bobby the Moron Copeland. I said it. For this, I do not apologize – he meets and exceeds my criteria for such. People give excesses for his age or "the time he lived in." As if he did not live through the changes this country went through in the 1950s and 1960s. Or even today. Lots of people lived thorugh those times and do not refer to the president with slurs. Bye Bobby

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

    Senile racist, will go to his grave with bitterness that the white house is/was occupied by a person of a different race. This twit – after 150 years of Abe..,

    May 19, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. Bill from GA

    We should all thank Mitt Romney for stepping in and settling this issue. I'm sure that is what pushed Copeland to resign. :)

    May 19, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Good riddance! Now go back to ironing your sheets, Copeland!

    May 19, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. David

    Good-bye you senile old racist. Don't let the door hit you in the ssa as you leave! You will be ostracized in your own town! Serves you right!

    May 19, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    ".....its hard to say we have freedom of speech if theirs one word that white people can't say"

    NO. You can say it all you want. You can also reap the rewards of doing so all you want. Freedom of speech does NOT mean freedom from the consequences of what you say. It means the gov't can't prohibit you from saying it or punish you for it. So let fly, songbird...sing your bigot lullaby. We'll be right there waiting to wake you the frig up when you're finished.

    May 19, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. sigh

    Such hate from the left here....every other comment is about people dying off or the stupidity of such. I really find it Ironic.

    May 19, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. Name

    Its kind of bad they can call us anything that want but let a white peraon call them something and all hell break loose double standards seems to me

    May 19, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    "Really, am I missing something here? "

    Nope. The entire GOP/Teatroll tantrum has been an attempt to make Obama call himself Toby since Jauary 20, 2009.
    --------
    Pretty sick comment, dude. Just when I didn't think it possible for you to sink any lower.

    May 19, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
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