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. eric graffam

    Now that he has resigned, he can now pursue his life long dream of owning the LA Clippers!
    eric,
    Maine

    May 19, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. MTP

    Too bad evolution works slowly.

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

    I live a few towns over from wolfeboro and can confirm that just about everyone that lives there is a rich crotchety old racist.

    May 19, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Mike Schweitzer

    Self-implode? This guy exploded and imploded at the same time. Glad I'm not his janitor.

    May 19, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Hard Corps

    I'm proud she came forward.

    May 19, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Dave

    How come the old racist isn't wearing a Gestapo uniform?

    May 19, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. mike gonzales

    people have a or had freedom of speech, but it is always one sided

    May 19, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Jim in PA

    Another sucker, chewed up and spit out by the very profitable hate industry of this country. The people that helped keep this guy's mind poisoned and full of hate will go on cashing their checks, and this guy gets to cap off his career by resigning in shame. He bought what they were selling, hook line and sinker, and they don't even know that he existed. He parroted the lines dutifully. And now he's done. It's almost sad.

    May 19, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. HZ

    Liberal media can't even find a single wrongdoing from this old man, the only thing they got was just this N word...
    ANd do you know who use N bomb the most? black themselves.

    May 19, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. sanjosemike

    I didn't vote for the present occupant of the WH either time. But I strongly object to the language used by this person to describe him. I'm glad the person who used it (publicly) resigned. I don't think Obama is good for this Country, but he won the election fair and square. The Republicans who ran against him ran the worst campaign in recent history. The results of that election was THEIR fault.

    (If you want to know my reasoning, here it is: Ryan called for "Medicare vouchers" as soon as he was labeled the VP candidate. That killed FL for the Repubs. It was Ryan's fault the election was lost.)

    sanjosemike

    May 19, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. Theresa Hall

    The "N word" in itself is not the problem, it is the connotation of it's use! We all are well aware from which this word originated and why. You have a 1st amendment right to free speech, however, you never see in the media where a caucasian yells the "N word" to an African American (Black) person face to face in 2014, it is done privately or so some assume. Wonder why that is? Hmmm...

    May 19, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    "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."
    ---------------------------------–
    Copeland was in a PUBLIC restaurant have a LOUD, private conversation.

    BTW, our opinions on the matter are pretty much irrelevant. The people who voted for him wanted him out, and that is all that really matters. He held an elected position, which means that he couldn't exactly be "fired." Their only recourse would have been a legal process of significant cost. I suppose they will need another election, but the process of removing someone unwilling to go would have been costly to a small community.

    May 19, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. tdogg

    freedom of speech??? thats not freedom of speech!!! as an earlier poster stated the government cannot make laws to prevent freedom of speech but it will not protect you from consequences of your actions if you offend someone. so make a racist slur and you can and will, get fired, lose an NBA team, etc....and there is nothing you can do!!!!!buh bye!!!!

    May 19, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. HZ

    Liberal media can't even find a single wrongdoing from this old man, the only thing they got was just this single word...
    And do you know who use the word the most? aferica american themselves.

    May 19, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. CJWatson

    @Johnathan, you feel like the info is too insufficient to take a side? He called the POTUS the n-word. It doesn't get much more disrespectful than that. Are you kidding me?

    May 19, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. HZ

    Liberal can't even find a single wrong action from this old man, the only thing they got was just this single word...
    And do you know who use the word the most? aferica american themselves.

    May 19, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. rlj

    He was supposed to be in a position to set an example of respect for authority. He should have kept his politics and his bigotry to himself.

    May 19, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. wyoming21

    Why are you beating this story to death......One 82 year old man in NH. Why don't to use this space to investigate the wrong doing at the VA. Or is that already over with....

    May 19, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Of Course

    First amendment rights are more important than the thin skinned ego of anyone.

    May 19, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. rufus

    Private conversations (taped or overhead) often find their way into the public domain these days and people who do not think "right" can be punished in many ways.

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Sure Jonathan like he or anyone else like him are going to admit to treating people of color wrong? What world are you living in? Are there pink flying elephants and unicorns? Racists have always been undercover. They used to travel at night in gangs and drag black men from their homes simply because a white female said he looked at her. They would then legally castrate, kill and hang that man. Just for looking at a white female. The election of this POTUS simply made them come out into the open. With the help of Faux Noise, Uncle Rush and the emergence of the baggers in 2009. They are taking their country back!!!

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. pbbh67

    This arrogant, racist, good ol' boy meets and exceeds my definition of PIG.

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. Matt B

    First he never should have used that word. There is no place for racial slurs like this in our society. I do find it sad however that when racial bigotry is shown in the other direction toward whites, nothing ever seems to happen. Tell me of ONE time that a black person has been relieved of duty for such behavior...

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. Citizen_123

    Good! Bigots have no place being in authority.

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  25. Strategerist

    I'm certain President Obama is outraged and will not sleep until we get to the bottom of this tragedy and will ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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