May 19th, 2014
01:54 PM ET
5 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. chris

    Am I the only one who thinks it's absurd that the news account of this incident has to use the euphamism "n-word"??

    May 19, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. ted

    He obviously feels very full of himself.

    How many people has he hurt in the past with this attitude? How many people have been RAIL ROADED with this attitude?

    Wolfeboro's got a big problem on it's hands even though he has 'resigned'

    May 19, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. Ben

    Cue the outcry from the right about "freedom of speech"!

    May 19, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. waynegage

    People support freedom of speech as long as they are not offended.

    May 19, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. netinbra

    That's what happens when someone acts with arrogance, ignorance, and call others names. What did he expect? To get a raise?

    May 19, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Andrew

    To anyone who wants to argue that this is a freedom of speech violation and PC gone made, his absurd response to the initial situation, not the use of the word in that way in the first place, is what makes him unfit to hold his job as police commissioner.

    May 19, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. barrywohlford

    What did he call him? Numbskull? Nincompoop? Nitwit? Ninny? Nut? Ne'er-do-well?

    May 19, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Michael

    I'd rather be called a "N" than a Republican.

    May 19, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. pbernasc

    Duh .. really, that should not come as a surprise.
    An estimated 100 M Africans died over 400 years of deportation and slavery and segregation.
    Now there is an African American in the White House and this police commissioner calls him a slave name ....

    Really, am I missing something here? he guy should be lucky he is not being sued through his soul.

    May 19, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. JJ

    Remember when Republicans insisted the president be respected no matter what.

    May 19, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Gee

    He needs to resign or brpe forced out, Obama is our President and I don't like all he is doing but using that language is ignorance period and shameful!

    May 19, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. MikeG

    Glad these people are getting old and dying out.

    May 19, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    He was just saying what most Republicans think.

    May 19, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. John

    So, his first amendment rights are being broken? Any takers on that? Any?

    May 19, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Gee

    He needs to resign or be forced out, Obama is our President and I don't like all he is doing but using that language is ignorance period and shameful!

    May 19, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. mppnsg

    But a reminder that the Supreme Court and the GOP say we are living in a post-racist society. Yuppers, and there's a bridge I'd like to sell ya.

    May 19, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Craig

    So much for freedom of speech...

    May 19, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. Moderate Sean

    His comments as a hole say quite enough of what this man is about; no more time needs to be wasted on this excuse for a human!

    May 19, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    People who criticize "political correctness" in defense of Copeland do not understand how much it hurts when you are the target of racial bigotry and taunts. Thank you to the fine citizens of Wolfeboro and Mitt Romney for pressuring Copeland to resign.

    May 19, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. laeinstein

    A police commissioner !!!! Aways a bad combination- lots of big power-along with a small micro-brain

    May 19, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Jesse

    Resigning and being sorry are two different things and I'm pretty sure he still doesn't regret his comments and I doubt he ever will. Although we have the laws that protect us, we still live in a world full of racist. It's not surprising. You can change laws but you can't change the icy hearts and minds of many in this country.

    May 19, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Gisela Liranza

    Such backward and bigoted thinking and expressions have no place among public officials, specially since they're chosen/elected to represent the public. Hateful language begets hateful action, and it should not be tolerated.

    May 19, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  23. mbutler91c

    Good. Now, let's get all of the Black individuals who use that word to resign from their positions too. Deal?

    May 19, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. J.C. Tripp

    Hopefully his is the last generation to hold such hatred toward a fellow American. We really need to get over race if we're to survive as a nation.

    May 19, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Edro

    The classic song "In the year 2525" had a perhaps prophetic lyric. Only off about 500 years:

    "Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
    Everything you think, do and say
    Is in the pill you took today..."

    May 19, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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