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. crindal3000

    @ bill
    i disagree the south has risen again in the form of Fox news.

    May 19, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  2. Name Jose Nourinho

    I just can't believe what is happening in this world. It is 21st century and there are more racist old folks in the world, I hope the next generation will not be like thier forefathers.

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

    While the slur is totally aberrant and has no place, I find the headline interesting "Obama slur"? It may just be me but it seems that it is a racial slur, for it does not matter who it was directed against, it is unacceptable for anyone especially in public service to use.

    May 19, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. Tom

    Good he needs to be gone from Punic service.

    May 19, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. spudnik56

    This guy is one sad human...

    May 19, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Gurgyl

    I don't know who the hell are hiring such idiots. Why not we hire brainy orientals than these pigs.

    May 19, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. weezer

    People who criticize the forced resignation of this guy for "just using a bad word" miss the point. It's called extremely poor judgement. Anyone who thinks it's OK to say something like that - and defend it in front of the country - can not be trusted to have good judgment in other matters. The guy was a police commissioner - not a janitor. He had an important position in the community where he made decisions that could affect the lives of others. Time to retire grandpa and stick to gardening.

    May 19, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. Bradlee

    Well' if you act the part your gonna be labelled, and Obama you have ran my label maker dry.! Oh I like your new ploy too! to try and start a fight with China now, aren't your hands still full still with Iran & Syria?? MOFO's trying to get the whole world in turmoil, good excuse for Global policing..well now that your going down I guess you want to take everyone else with ya!...

    May 19, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Tom

    Dude. You shouldn't have given in. People have to call them as they see`em.

    May 19, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. Findsitcurious

    How come it is always a republican/tea party problem. Is that to say that there isn't one liberal democrat that doesn't behave poorly related to race? Commentary is never just about the behavior of one-but lumps an entire politcal party in the mix. Considering this guy is from NH-he is more likely a registered democrat than republican. They don't have that many of them up there.
    No matter what story you go to on the CNN website-it is always the same – Party bashing.

    May 19, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. SPVANDERWAHL

    Good riddance to this ignorant old man!

    May 19, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. John Richard

    You are perfectly free to call your boss and _sshole, but don't be surprised if you are fired. There's no "Freedom of Speech" issue here. Say what you want and then live with the consequences. It doesn't matter that he did not apologize; it would have been hollow and false anyway. We already know how this guy feels about it because he's already re-affirmed his statements publicly. Good bye and have a good trip back to the 19th Century where you belong, Mr Balboni.

    May 19, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. Flora

    It's pretty disturbing how many people have attributed their own ideas of terrible groups to this guy. There are commenters here who are calling him a Republican, a member of the "right," someone who wants the Confederacy back, someone who must stockpile guns, etc. There is nothing like that in the article whatsoever. It does not say that he is a Republican or any type of conservative, and he's from New England- not the South. What he is is elderly. People his age grew up using that word, and it wasn't always a negative, it was just descriptive of a race for many people decades ago. While it is no longer considerate acceptable, there are some elderly people who still use it. That doesn't make him some cartoon monster or a member of whatever group isn't fashionable this week.

    May 19, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  14. Joshua Millman

    It would be nice if CNN would runs some stories of white people who are the victims of hate crimes, not just of white people who lost their rights to free speech.

    May 19, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  15. LizB

    Carmen, what he said was not in a 'private conversation' or on the phone– he was loudly said in a public place so someone halfway across the room heard it. He got what he deserved, just like you or I would lose their job for it.

    May 19, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. Name john

    Well I guess he's still going to be ok for the comment that he made that resignation letter that shows you how much he really he's sorry he's 82 he figures its time to go and he's still going to get paid

    May 19, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Police Commissioner in New Hampshire. DONE!

    May 19, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. priyam

    Everything has a limit and just because there is the first amendment, doesnt give an authority or a responsible person to use a word that has a really bad atmosphere or environment or meaning. Take responsibility whether it is how you act or talk that pars the human being from animals.

    May 19, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. CherryMama

    Maybe he can work at Kmart. I heard they are hiring...

    May 19, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. studio painter

    The days when people smile an nod at your racist antics are over. We can no longer give consent to such reprehensible behavior by remaining silent. All racists should consider themselves on notice. Everyone carries a recording device with them everywhere we go, time to shame these people into silent submission.

    May 19, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. Christina

    Good ! Glad he resigned !

    May 19, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  22. dsrobins

    Decent Americans are delighted that this old racist, bigoted curmudgeon has finally resigned. He should go home to his rocking chair now and wait to die. He won't be missed and, hopefully, it won't be long.

    May 19, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. Humbrrto

    It wasn't like he was lying ?
    All you people did was shyte all over sterling but hide, concerning the fraud of a US Supreme Court Justice and corrupt bar members robbing relief granted citizens by thr US Congress in the Civil Rights Act while Holders pernicious graduation speeches attempt to place blame elsewhere for his false accolades.

    May 19, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  24. george culpepper

    another stool pigeon snitch ratting out someone using the N-word. I'm sure the snitch waitress wasn't happy with her tip. Its all about money in America

    May 19, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. JakeF`

    The fact that the old coot was senile didn't help his decision-making abilities much.

    May 19, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
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