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. Bill from GA

    Sniffit

    You did see that smiley face thing, right? That's a big clue, to most people, that the comment was not to be taken seriously.

    Still haven't seen you apologize to the people of New Hampshire for branding them all a bunch of Hillbillies, and by the context of you comments last week, a bunch of racists.

    Real men don't judge an entire state on the words of one man. Not where I come from.

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  2. Patrick

    I wonder what the reaction will be when a progressive/liberal is recorded/reported on in a private conservation. There is a huge difference from what is said in a private home, a private phone call, or in your car then taking stage and saying something. As we see that makes no difference now.

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

    "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. – Massms"

    Yeah, what a snoop! I remember another story a couple weeks ago a woman glimpsing a young man attempting, what looked to be breaking-in, to gain entry to his storage facility. The neighbor, a down-right lousy snoop, called the cops and the young man ended up having bombs in his rented storage room; apparently planning to blow up his school. Snoops, pffff – get a life!

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. giancarlo

    I hope as a JOKE all the racist RepubliKKKans people go to Heaven and when GOD greets them, It would be a BLACK GOD!!!!! Wound't that be a hoot.

    May 19, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. Justin

    CNN couldn't help but place Mitt Romney's name in this article. Also seen dems claiming this bigot was a republican. Dont see anywhere in this article that refers to this bigot's party affiliation.

    May 19, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Jim M

    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.

    ----

    Blame the victim...ok

    May 19, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. lee

    When you take a look at how he used the word... as in a derogatory manner to essentially bad-mouth the president... I see no wrong here, but unfortunately the word in question is perceived by the majority to be such an outrageous term that it automatically induces angst and hate. He is also in a binded position to speak no ill about his employer which also limits his so called "freedom of speech" against what he thinks about the president's recent and forecasted actions. Although his comment shouldnt be allowed to go unpunished... everyone needs to take a step back to collect their own thoughts to why this action is such a big deal and find solutions at the fundamental/structural level, and not an individual one.

    May 19, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. nemo0037

    Good riddance?

    May 19, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. pattysboi

    Massms, grow UP and get a life. She did nothing wrong, and also did a great public service by bringing this matter to light.

    May 19, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. Ol' Lefty

    Let's hope his kind soon pass from the scene. You can oppose any politician's policies, and should if you want to exercise your rights. But slurring someone because they're not white is beyond idiotic.

    May 19, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. rufus

    In other news, Charles Barkley is still employed.

    May 19, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. gsmith

    Why resign, you were just telling the truth.

    May 19, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Tom Barnett

    What? Someone in New Hampshire used the "N" word? I thought that only happened in the South!

    The worst I ever saw black people treated was in Winthrop, MA, where I lived in the mid-fifties. Remember Louise Day Hicks?

    May 19, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Pablo Escobar

    Whatever happened to free speech? I guess that ended with the Black Panthers outside the Philadelphia polling site who were threatening anyone who voted for anyone other than Obama. It was so refreshing to watch Eric Holder completely refuse to press any kind of charges....such corruption.

    May 19, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  15. Dana

    You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.

    May 19, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. ChrisM

    Thank God these old codgers like Copeland are dying off and will soon will go the way of the dinosaurs

    May 19, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. rufus

    Is he too old for sensitivity "training"?

    May 19, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. giancarlo

    I am often asked if GOD is a conservative, and my answer is NO! Why?, because if GOD was a conservative, we would all be WHITE, with BLUE EYES, and BLONDE HAIR.

    May 19, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    oh well what else is new!!! people of color cant win, either get bananas tossed at them or called the n-word. stay strong!!!!

    May 19, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. pbernasc

    No excuses
    private or not, he was in a restaurant and even if he was at home jerking dick ... he is out and one

    May 19, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. pjoe

    "Thou shalt not use the N-word in vain"... 1st commandment of the 1st Amendment.

    May 19, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Kim

    It's sad when someone has a less than favorable opinion and then has to resign for it. Him using that word has nothing to do with his job or how he treats employees, so who cares what he calls the president. I bet he's not th eonly one who has said something like that.

    May 19, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  23. ephemeroptera1

    A member of the military can be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for making any derogatory remarks concerning the president of the United States. Generally it would be non-judicial punishment. But, too bad our elected officials cannot hold themselves to the same standards as the military.

    May 19, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  24. Spa City

    I would much rather have a mean-spirited bigot in public office than a liar who pretends to be a super nice guy but secretly takes bribes and kickbacks or abuses his power. I have no idea whether this guy was a bigot who ALSO abused his office or not. But it is weird that we rally around politicians who lie to us all the time, even to the extent that we tend to view all politicians as liars. We know they are full of it. So why do we only run people out of office when they say things that make our little feelings ouchy?

    May 19, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  25. Name R

    Why be mad he just calls it how it is.

    May 19, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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