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. max

    Old white folk. Yikes!"

    That'll teach em about racism mike!

    May 19, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Southern Shottie

    After monitoring the Political Ticker for the last 3+ years, and commenting from time to time, I've come to one irrefutable fact...those on the left that can Those that cannot......Sniff it.

    May 19, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. simonriece

    What I find odd is that nowhere was there any debate regarding the veracity of his statement, using the definition of the word in question, as defined by the vernacular used in the community at large.

    If he would have called the president a thief or a liar, would that have spawned large scale denials? Nobody has come to the presidents defense and espoused "NO HE IS NOT". I find this very odd.

    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Nate

    What's an 'n' word?


    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Lyle Dars

    Senile Dementia

    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. Sounder

    I bet I know which party he voted for...

    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. tor5

    While I do have some concerns about how private conversations are being used to oust people professionally (here and with Sterling), it's amazing to me that people find it so hard to simply apologize. I too have said things I regret, but I can say I'm sorry and try to be a better person. It's not really so difficult. The fact that these men can't do that says a lot. Good riddance.

    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Michael Schwers

    Tolerance is probably better than prejudice, and enlightenment is probably better than ignorance. "You've got to be taught"

    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Tracy

    CNN will not let me even be a RACIST in sarcasm! I NEVER GET TO DO WHAT I WANT TO DO!

    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Eagle0841

    So this is the lead story for CNN when we have Vets dying, Obama administration cover ups, corruption, and incompetence. Why is this a "big" story?

    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Richard

    Well, he resigned. Case closed. On to the next useless crusade for the "townsfolk" of Hicksville.

    May 19, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. Tad1950

    Well Mr Copeland s getting more than his 15 minutes of fame and I bet you he has said a lot worse in the last few days. And not a doubt in my mind we have not heard the last of this man in the news. AND please do not tell me the noisy citizen that could not wait to report this to the news, does not get his job....

    May 19, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. Buckeye4ever

    This from a old guy in New Hampshire, yes it is still alive and well
    in America........SAD!

    May 19, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. Brad-Ashe

    Bigotry is an ugly beast.

    May 19, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. TooClose2DC

    The N-word? Why is he in trouble for calling Obama a Nincompoop? or did he say Ninny? Nag? Maybe is was Nagger.

    May 19, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Really?

    Anyone who takes this man’s side, thinks that this man was mistreated, misrepresented, snitched on or should be in any public office is as reprehensible as he is. The fact that this town elected this imbecile in the first place is disturbing.

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. TonyInNYC

    And please let the door hit you on the way out.

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. American Worker

    If only we can use this kind of public opinion and pressure to get the Elitist that are in the DOJ, IRS, and other Government Agencies out out of power

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Niki

    @Justin. No it's not racism when 93% of people vote for Obama. Many people are alive today that lived through times when whites and blacks couldn't use the same bathrooms, couldn't go to the same schools. It is just a proud moment to realize that finally we might hold real positions of authority regardless of skin color. If this was our 5th or 6th black president this percentage would very likely drop drastically. You know this is why. Why do you question actions like this from a race who has a long history of discrimination. Shame on you for posting such garbage and actually trying to make a point from it.

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    New Hampshire is the Mississippi of New England.

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Bill, Bloomington Il

    We need to let it go. He resigned. He was raised in a world that has passed.

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. billbfit

    Northerners are such bigots.

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Is this headline news? i guess so. Everyone must know people who disagree with obama are racist.

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. paustinwardsteel

    one word...disgraceful

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Still haven't seen you apologize to the people of New Hampshire for branding them all a bunch of Hillbillies"

    Because I didn't. Pointing out that you're most likely to find a hillbilly in NH out of the 7 NE states...similar to the way you're most likely to find a hillbilly in SC in it's closest 7 state not the same as saying they are ALL hillbillies. If you're still having trouble with that concept, then you clearly failed 6th grade math.

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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