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. Kris

    It can be entertaining to watch less-than-humble people in positions of power self-implode.

    May 19, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Jonathan

    The best part about this is that nowhere does it suggest he's ever treated anyone wrong, ever. I guess this area has a replacement, just as competent, who never uses racial slurs in restaurants. Somehow, I feel like this guy got screwed. But if he's willing to resign and stand firm about his specific word usage, I guess he'll die soon anyway. I feel like information about this guy was insufficient for me to take sides.

    May 19, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. mailee0515

    For someone with this kind of authority, he did the right thing by resigning. We don't need people like him in our communities to teach our children derogatory words like this. The next generation should not learn from someone who takes for granted his position to do good instead of running his mouth with such ugly words. I'm not a big fan of our President either, but I would never use that kind of word to describe him. My parents taught me better than that!

    May 19, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. Sniffit

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

    Yeah, I agree....let's highlight that Copeland had such complete and utter disrespect and disdain for the people of the town he was supposed to be serving that he ignored them and their complaints and demands...and that he only finally listened once a wealthy white man he respects spoke to the issue. Let's highlight that a lot.

    May 19, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. massms

    Copeland may have been in a restaurant but he was having a private conversation. Ms. O'Toole, who "overheard" his remark and rushed to report it, is the epitome of the town snoop. Bet she's really proud of her snitching.

    May 19, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. paouser70

    The First Amendment has NOTHING to do with this. If anyone is going to pull the First Amendment card – then at least know you will be called out as a M0r0n for not knowing what the First Amendment does and more importantly does NOT cover.

    May 19, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. dazzy

    If the national media hadn't picked up the story nobody in that town would have cared.

    May 19, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. SweePee

    The GOP has been silently fomenting this for decades...
    Since Nixon.

    May 19, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "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."
    ====
    Waaaaaah!!!!! Waaaaaaaaaah! It's true and an accurate analogy and I stand by it. They might as well have shown up to Congress with whips.

    May 19, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. matt

    Another bigot down. Way to be NH.

    May 19, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Noni Lovechild

    N word. B word. C word are just letters in the alphabet. Our President is stronger than words. Let old PWT word keep his job.

    May 19, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. justasportsnut

    Now this POS certainly looks and talks like a blue-eyed devil.

    SMH

    May 19, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. WestsacVoice

    And still no apology. At 82, I guess his perspectives won't change and he is right.

    May 19, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. Jesse

    Seriously who cares if the dude is racist be a better person and ignore him now the media is on this and now theirs pp wasting time

    May 19, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Copeland may have been in a restaurant but he was having a private conversation. "

    Nope. Doesn't work like that. Overheard in public is overheard in public. Suck it up.

    May 19, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. Padric2

    To quote Charles dickens; when the second spirit moved aside his robs and revealed to Ebenezer two children he said"They are mans children. This boy is ignorance. This girl is want. Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy for on his forehead is written doom".

    May 19, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. paouser70

    @massms Copeland may have been in a restaurant but he was having a private conversation. Ms. O'Toole, who "overheard" his remark and rushed to report it, is the epitome of the town snoop. Bet she's really proud of her snitching.
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Are you serious? An elected official has no expectation of privacy in a public place. Keep your hood off in public. Bet you are really proud of how ridiculous this post makes you look...

    May 19, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. SweePee

    Massms –
    "Copeland may have been in a restaurant but he was having a private conversation. "
    In a Public place?!
    nonsense, that's no longer a 'private conversation'.
    .

    May 19, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. ItSoNlYmE

    As much as this man may be a repugnant troglodyte, doesn't he have the First Amendment right to say anything he wants to? I may not agree with him, but I'll fight to the death for his right to say anything he wants to. When we start censoring ourselves this way, it's a slippery slope.

    May 19, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. Name

    I think Mr. Obama is a fine president. But apparently " freedom of speech " is not alive and well in this country. Why is it ok for black people to use the word freely and not the white people?

    May 19, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. emskadittle

    classic teaparty, an 82 year old bitter racist white guy

    May 19, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Bob

    It seems that Copeland is not using the word to refer to all blacks based on his comments later, but only certain ones, which is interesting....

    May 19, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. DaveNYUSA

    Sounds more like Soviet-era Russia than the USA, which makes Obama happy, I am sure.

    May 19, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. justasportsnut

    Now this 86 year-old racist is the proverbial blue-eye devil.

    SMH

    May 19, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  25. Willis

    bye bye racist

    May 19, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
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