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. V

    Old Fart needs to go home and sit down somewhere...

    May 19, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. DC Observer

    Resigning was the proper thing to do – it was a dumb remark.

    Now. I only wish that the Democratic Congressman from Mississippi who called Supreme Court Justice Thomas an "Uncle Tom" a few weeks back were forced to resign as well. Apparently this Congressman did not thing Thomas was bias enough in favor of blacks in his rulings ...

    May 19, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. fekt

    Justin, you realize that blacks vote democrat in a hugely disproportionate fashion anyway. Look at the percentage that voted for Gore and Clinton. It goes without saying that some voted for him because he was black. It was something many never thought to see in their lifetimes. You'll need to get over it. The next election blacks and latinos and asians as well will vote for democrats in hugely disproportionate fashiion just like they always do. Does racism have anything to do with it? You bet it does. They vote against the party that panders to racist whites. Everyone can see the gop for what they are and the voters they pander to. Denial quit working a while ago. But keep on being vocal about it. The more you all protest about it the more your true colors show through.

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

    A couple of posts here suggest that his Freedom of Speech was violated, not so. He is free to say whatever as long as he is also willing to pay the price. In his case the Price was right!. Number two, someone said this was a private conversation, not if he said it loud enough for everyone in the restaurant to hear. Thank God this woman had the "good sense" to report and not turn a "blind" ear. The old fart got exactly what he deserved!

    May 19, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Just Me

    It's unfortunate that in this day an age, we still have people like this Joseph Balboni around spewing racial hatred. His so called resignation letter shows that he still an angry racist old man.

    At any rate, something needs to be said about the good people, in particular the good WHITE people of Wolfeboro. Kudos for them for taking a stand. They did not have if they were only to think similarly, being white themselves, but they took the right stand despite of thier skin color. Again, kudos to them.

    The other day I was listening to a song by the former artist from South Africa, Lucky Deube, where he sang ..and I'm paraphrasing...not every brother is your your friend, and not every white man is your enemy. Those words could be not more truthful, as throughout the history of the conscience, there have always been good people of good conscience on every race issue to face this nation. I applaud these people, and the deserve credit for help moving this country forward.

    May 19, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. McRCN

    Someone needs to ask Hillary if she has used the n-word. Old white woman use to say it all the time. She is just a little older than Paula Dean.

    May 19, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. shawn

    Here is comes...the whiners of the thought police!

    Sorry folks but when you are in a position of power...and nothing is more concerning then the data we see on blacks and don't want the guy in charge using the n-word...sorry this is not thought police stuff. The n-word shows where you stand on an entire race of people who have had white men in power hold things against them for no more then the color of their skin.

    If you cannot see what is wrong with this...or feel bad the guy quit then you are 100% the problem with America. Sad that you vote!

    May 19, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Name Tim Butterfield

    This moron is no different than Donald Sterling. He needs to just shut up and go away!

    May 19, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. t3chn0ph0b3

    Neocons are funny.

    May 19, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. BrickellPrincess

    You cannot be in a leadership role and think, behave, and react like that old man did. He has absolutely no leadership traits at all. I am sure that he got his job through the good ole boys club.

    May 19, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. kcmookie

    Too many people post on here don't understand their rights or what is protected under the freedom of speech. He was and is free to express himself however he likes, and he is also free to suffer the repercussions of such actions. He has every right to speak his mind, and he has every right to be held accountable for it–hence his forced resignation.

    May 19, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Jeff

    82 year old police commissioner? Should have been gone a while ago. I know it is not a popular suggestion, but mandatory retirement ages for public service employees should be a standard.

    May 19, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. Chuck

    And they say YANKEES aren't Racists

    May 19, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. Bill in Mill Creek

    I thought it was great of Romney to step up like that. A real professional. Still would not vote for him.

    May 19, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. Michael Schwers

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

    May 19, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. get realist

    I will be glad when dinosaurs like this are all just a bad memory. Its only a matter of time now.

    May 19, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. afvet

    In this day and age, politeness and courtesy seem to be considered 'quaint' and 'old-fashioned'. Whether or not you like President Obama (I do not), you still should accord him the respect due his office. And using words like this man did is unnecessary, uncalled for and reprehensible
    To borrow from another CNN story – I guess it would be inconceivable to treat others with respect on a regular basis.

    May 19, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. edutron

    Can anybody on this planet define the "N" word. What the H*ll is that. $1 million to anybody that can define!

    May 19, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. rotorhead1871

    its a racist society.....everybody is racist..........and it will not change.......its the way of the human animal in us all......a testament to our ....intolerance.....

    May 19, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. calvin

    Just shows the kind of person he is, racist or not. "Dear Commission Chairman Balboni, I resign,". What an idiot.

    May 19, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Bill

    Ever notice how, at least judging by the news stories that get printed, America seems to get a lot more racist in election years? I'm sure it's just a coincidence that this is an election year where democrats are in danger of losing the Senate.

    May 19, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. LarryT

    I've been against racism all my life. My "W" father taught me to be color blind. That being said, the problem isn't the word he used. The problem is the human tendency, black or white, to use derogatory expressions while referring to any people of any color. If everyone would learn to say the right words in public, that wouldn't eliminate racism. It would just make us politically acceptable. We need to clean the inside of the fish also.

    May 19, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. Susan

    He just reminds me of a white sharpton or jackson...

    May 19, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. AAAAA

    This old man has not read the dictionary at all, the N word doesn't describe any one for that matter. It describes a behavior and black people need to start ignore any one who call them that.

    The president is nothing like that. The whites who use this word to insult every black person by generalize everyone with a black color as N word are complete idiots because as a black conservative person, I live a much better life than 90% of the whites US population, with no profane language, no tattoos with low decent behavior in society, with no class. I have master degree, with very high moral standard, So this word according to the dictionary can't describe a black person for that matter. Low educated whites better rethink their strategies.

    May 19, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  25. MarylandMan

    This man is of a certain age commonly referred to as the Greatest Generation. They may or may not be the greatest, but one thing is for sure: America will be a much better country when this generation is finally gone.

    May 19, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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