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. sweeper11

    This is what runs NH. Just look at the Senate.

    May 19, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. ooh yaa

    Nobody 82 years old should be in this type of a position. He's a typical old nut job.

    May 19, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. Juergen

    Hope he didn't let the door hit him in the butt.

    May 19, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    "I wonder what the reaction will be when a progressive/liberal is recorded/reported on in a private conservation."
    Yelling and speaking very loudly in a PUBLIC restaurant is NOT a private conversation. It's called being a public nuisance.

    May 19, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Big Deal

    Cry me a river. He's an old racist, who cares?

    May 19, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. underwaterops

    Right outcome. He has a right to his views, and to vote them. He has no right to hold public office while exercising those views.
    When someone clearly has racist views, they cannot be in a position to enforce the law. It is far too likely that they will act on their prejudices, and not the facts.

    May 19, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. David

    You have freedom of speech...but you don't have guarantee of no consequences. You have the "right" of free speech to march into your bosses office and tell him his daughter is ugly and stupid. Congress won't arrest you. Neither will the state. But you will probably get punched in the face, and definitely fired. You can say anything you want (nearly) but there's no guarantee there won't be a backlash for saying stupid things.

    May 19, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. luvuamerica

    By all accounts, if Obama is a bad President, then by all accounts, the only good President in the past 25 years has been Bill Clinton. It was choice of electing someone who would have brought this countries middle class further down into debt and despair than electing Obama. At this point, looking over the horizon, electing a Democrat, any kind of Democrat is better than electing a Do-Nothing Republican or God forbid a Tea Party candidate.

    May 19, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. 1776usa2016

    I remember guys like this from when I was a kid.

    N this, N that. Always complaining about the blacks.

    Of course, they were no prize themselves.


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

    Given that the lovely town of Hebron, NH, is home to the Obama daughters as their summer camp destination, imagine how embarrassing and hurtful this man's comments have been! Wolfesboro residents, wake-up! You can do better than this!

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

    He should NOT have resigned. The people of his town should have FIRED him. By 'pressuring' him to resign they have shirked their responsibility. Look at it this way: the man has an opinion which the people of his town – his employers – have felt was not indicitave of their beliefs. So they should have stood up for their OWN beliefs, and FIRED this man. By not doing so they are hiding in the same shadows that cowards use. It makes me question THEIR beliefs. At this moment, I can envision the people of the town saying 'Poor old Joe done got caught speaking the truth about those people. I feel fer him – heck it couldve been me or you. Let's go tell him that we gots no choice but to ask him to quit. Give him his retirement and severance pay and invite him to go fishin next saturday.'

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

    "I want my country back"
    Like it was many years ago without the wackos

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

    So if you are a white public servant you can not use the n word . If you are any black you can. If you own a black team in a black league and you are white you must profess to like and want to be around blacks or your team will be taken away from you. you do not have to use the n word in this case. I'm just trying to adjust to our new society rules I don't want to offend no body or loose something because I did not know what I was suppose to say or feel that's not my choice in our new society

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

    Ever listen to Rap or others call each other that name? That doesn't make it right, but today anything gets blown out of proportion. Our Country is in bad shape.

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


    I agree with MASSMS I hate Obama and think he hate white American's I think Copeland has the right to freely open has mouth and say any thing he wants about how ever he wants to well he's sitting at a table eating. Mrs. Big mouth oToole is nothing but the town crier. I heard this guy say this I heard this person say this. I'm telling everyone on him. You just cost a 82 yr. old man his job fell good now?
    SCENARIO: Loud old man in the corner of a restaurant is disturbing other customers who complain to the waitress.

    May 19, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. ollokot

    How dare he say out loud what all good Republicans and Teabaggers secretly think.

    May 19, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. ray

    Copeland is an ignorant jerk. So are the people that elected him...

    May 19, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. lol

    Last I checked, When a white man calls you white trash you smile, I f a Black man calls you white trash you want to kick his butt

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

    "when racial bigotry is shown in the other direction toward whites, nothing ever seems to happen."

    Don't be fooled. It happens far less frequently that you have black cops taking out race resentments on white folks, but it gets sufficient press when it happens. The reason you feel like it doesn't is because it happens far FAR less frequently than the "usual" way and, as a result, it's reported more often, which makes it seem more prominent, which it is. Brass tacks: happens more often = reported more often.

    May 19, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Chief Curmudgeon

    Old white rancher. Old white basketball team owner. Old white police commissioner.

    Yep, getting to be No Country for Old (white) Men.

    May 19, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. John

    You apologists miss the point. Copeland can say anything he wants IN PRIVATE. But he answered an official inquiry in writing, and it was about his qualification to be in any way involved in law enforcement. Since it is the duty of every office in that field to uphold the law, you cannot be seen as undermining law-and in this area there are laws and a sworn duty to uphold it. Copeland doesn't deserve sh** in sympathy for not respecting the POTUS or the laws relevant to bigotry in general. Keep the law or get out of it. So good riddance to the dried-up old fart.

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

    I love rule by the mob.

    May 19, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. robertfournier

    I'm not old nor young, nevertheless there seems to be a problem with old men expressing some split-personality disorders. Can't we simply say to these old guys, "Take a chill pill and cool it." Not so! because it in our nature to kill or be killed. Good gracious, this is the animal nature we are born with. We call ourselves civilized and we are ready to go to bloody war in an instant. Someday, Nature and the big bang theory might get fed up with what it developed and simply collapse inward upon all of us. Good luck, folks. I would like to say, "Try religion," but the Internet tells me," I musn't, South of the boarder down Mexico Way" as this old song tells it story but all of this is "entertainment" for us.

    May 19, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. seriously

    Still amazed at some claiming "private conversation", except no one, well not an intelligent would agree that a public serving restaurant is consider private.....Old age and dementia has nothing to do with being a racist either. Nor do these people need protecting from family member who already knew how he felt about African-Americans. People like him will never die because they have plenty of people who feels the same way even if they don't have the guts to say it.

    No apology needed from this man, I just hope he is judged, just as harshly and crudely as he has delivered to others. Him and his supporters.

    May 19, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  25. Mark

    But what did he say that was not true?

    May 19, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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