May 19th, 2014
01:54 PM ET
7 years 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.

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"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. oh gee

    I agree with him. If you act like one you are "one".

    He should have gave a resignation date of 12 months.

    May 19, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. Jim

    Not all white Republicans are racists, but all white racists are Republicans!

    May 19, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. cboy619

    Bottom line is if you work for the people, and you say some nasty things, you should resign. If I were elected mayor and said I want to kill all babies born in June, I should be forced to resign.
    You work for the people and even if you don't have any constituents who were born in June, it's still an awful and tasteless thing to say.

    I'm not being sarcastic, when you hold a government position you should be held to a higher standard.

    May 19, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. d

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

    May 19, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. tombstone7

    This man is 82 years old. He has been saying this word for at least 80 years. To view President Obama as the "current occupant of the White House" is equally disrespectful Every since Barack Obama became President, racism and bigotry has reared its ugly head. When was the last time a sitting President has been subjected to such racist, yes racist comments. According to George Wallace, former Governor of Alabama in 1963, "racist are people who despises other people because of the color of their skin." He should know! Also, who would want an apology from this person? 20 AA in a town of 6,300 are views as nothing and the tragedy of it all, is that they probably voted for him. Shame on those who did!.

    May 19, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. American

    I have a hard line view of the 1st Amendment. IMO, it should protect private opinions of private citizens, as long as they're divulged in private, from unwanted media exposure and retribution. Why? Because it's impossible to know such opinions without invading privacy, and any legal system that fails to protect private opinions from retribution is sanctioning an abridgment of speech. That would protect Donald Sterling, as much as I disagree with him. That's just my hard line opinion.

    ...but this guy Copeland wasn't in private, he was in a restaurant. More importantly, he is a public servant, and his opinion is very material to his governmental duties. Thus, it's government speech, and he needs to be removed from office if he's going to say those things. So, basically, even a 1st Amendment nut like me thinks this guy needs to go.

    May 19, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. Paulmichael Contreras

    No one is denying this old man his freedom of speech. He is free to use whatever language he wants. But that does not free him or anyone from the consequences of using that freedom, in much the same way that we have our rights to weapons – we must accept the consequences of, say, using that weapon inappropriately.

    May 19, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. 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.

    May 19, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Chris

    Sometimes ya just gotta call em as you see em. Have I used the N word? Absolutely, Was it common to hear around the small Virginia town I was raised? Absolutely and Have I ever called our president one, Absolutely. But would I quit my job if someone overheard me say it and tattled to my boss? Not a chance. Do you think any black man would be fired or forced to resign during the Bush administration if he was overheard calling the president a cracker or honkie? Not a chance. What people do or say in their personal life is none of yours or my business, its called a personal life for a reason. Least this man was honest enough to stand his ground but lets face it, having the pressure of someone like Romney calling for your resignation is a lot of pressure and shame on him for throwing his weight around which is the problem in Washington as it is. Lets all fire every black man who has ever called his white boss a cracker at some point during his personal life, fair is fair right? No double standards in America right? But that would just be a reason for the NAACP to come running to another poor innocent black man who was the victim of the white man in America. Mad yet? Problem is the truth is all too plain to see as it pertains to racism in America, but most white people are scared to speak up about it, why? Well because they would become an instant racist of course.

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. cboy619

    Bottom line is if you work for the people, you are (and should be) held to a higher standard. I'm all for freedom of speech, but as a government official you shouldn't be allowed to use racist language.

    It should also go both ways, if a Representative from Mississippi says racial slurs towards whites, he should also be forced to resign.

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Just sayin too....

    Not sure what a police commissioner does, BUT....I assume it has something to do with law enforcement. We assume that those involved in law enforcement will conduct themselves in a manner reflective of their position. I'm glad he resigned.. I certainly woudn't want him involved in any decisions that would impact my life...

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. J Perez

    Even his resignation letter showed his ignorance. This may be the first signs of dimensia for the old guy.

    Personally, as a electric utility worker who retired fairly young (591/2) after 35 years of service, I think anyone working at that age is out of their mind to begin with.

    Get a hobby, volunteer, relax and enjoy your family and what short time you have left.

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. Billy Bob

    Something tells me Fox is going to have a new guest soon

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Bill from GA

    " 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. "

    How about an apology FROM all you left wing nutjobs who branded ALL the people in that area, all the people of New Hampshire, or in some cases another "racist" state or even all of the one-time Confederate States, TO, the above.

    You people who denigrate large groups of people based on one man's comments are no better than Copeland.

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. AJK

    "Is he too old to know that the President is half black and half white? Most Obama haters always forget that he shares half of their white blood."

    It seems to me that the Obama lovers forget the same thing.

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. baller

    White women chase black men and wait at each and every hotel stop. They are looking for money and other things other races cant give them. Yes the myth is true!Grow one and learn how to use it!

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Americans can no longer have private thoughts or conversations."

    Dude was overheard saying this very loudly in public. That's not a private conversation.

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. bobthebobthex2

    it's a shame that so many people are so worried about the constitution, without having the faintest idea what it says and means.

    May 19, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. BMette

    The 'free speech' argument doesn't excuse this man's hateful ethnic slur. His speech (yes, even in private conversations), actions, and attitudes demonstrate his insensitivity to racial issues, specifically as they apply to African Americans.
    Would the 'free speech' argument have been valid if he used the slur publicly?

    May 19, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. Kathleen Farrell

    Jayne. Have some respect for the president of the United States. And don't be so intent on hurting people. If blacks talk that way among themselves and it's not hurtful, so be it. If other races use the word, it's racist. It's just the way it is. Don't pick fights. Life's too short.

    May 19, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  21. Republican supporter of Pres. Obama

    Next up for him is a stint on FOX news as well as TEA party & NRA rally's. That is his type of crowd.

    No one in his position should be saying that type of stuff. Judgement is called into question if he dispenses the law with that mindset. This is the same reason behind TEA party opposition – they have no respect whatsoever and are unwilling to listen.

    If you do not like our President or country .... Move out. America will prosper without this crap dragging us down.

    May 19, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  22. pberg2

    For those professing he had a right under the 1st Amendment-THIS is proof that that Constitution is in need of being updated and evolved to this 21st century. Look up what the definition of a Civilized Society means. It does NOT mean barbaric, low class, knuckle dragging beings.

    May 19, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. JustASec

    Cons want freedom of name calling, freedom of slurs, freedom of ignorance.

    May 19, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  24. Drakkon

    "I won't apologize." "I wasn't wrong." "I'm not a bigot for calling the President a n--r."

    Ok. You're fired. And good riddance.

    May 19, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    So Snake said.... Why can't black guys make women they want to be with? They go after women of other races like rabid gorillas... Wow. Snake, which I highly doubt, have you ever seen a woman of those other races after she has gotten a piece of that rabid gorilla? Well the rabid gorillas can't beat them off with a bat. They chase those rabid gorillas shamelessly, giving them all of their money, just so they can have some of that black mamba.

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