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. sly

    "Mrs. Big mouth oToole is nothing but the town crier...You just cost a 82 yr. old man his job fell good now?"
    Agreed. I was informed about the Boston Marathon plot 2 weeks before the race by a good friend of the bombers.

    But, like a good American, I did not 'snitch' on the bombers.

    May 19, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. czombie

    Some conservatives will say this is about assaulting free speech but what it is actually about is that this guy cannot be an impartial administrator of justice if he is using words like this to insult African-Americans. If he had not been a police chief and was instead some guy on the street insulting Obama with the N-word to his buddies then this would not have been a national news story.

    May 19, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. nubianepistle

    Tim from the south

    Those claiming freedom of speech refuse to understand, he did HAVE and STILL HAS freedom of speech. After all he is not in jail and is not going to prison. "Freedom of Speech" does not have anything to do with "Freedom of Repercussion". He had and has his rights, but everyone else did as well when they choose to force his resignation.

    This is the most intelligent post on this subject I've read. So much other ignorance on both sides of the subject.
    United we stand...devided...look around, we have already fallen.

    May 19, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. Tracy

    I am being moderated! LOL! Oh, and to the person who said that the "N_Word" has no power...Move on...That word has a lot of power if you are scared to use it! I'm being moderated because I was trying to use in sarcastically! Oh freedom of speech here! Move on!

    May 19, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Kim Powell

    Whatever happened to FREEDOM of speech and right to an opinion? If the black community wants the "N" word to be a thing of the past, then I highly suggest they follow their own rule and remove it from their vocabulary! The old saying, "if its good for the goose then its good for the gander"!

    May 19, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Deon Rademeyer

    It is only Racist if it is a lie. He spoke the truth, did he not? Maybe I am wrong!

    May 19, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Anna

    I have heard African Americans use that word all the time.

    May 19, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. age an issue

    said this a few times this past 6 weeks, but age is an issue, this guy is 80+, sterling 80+, south korean captain 70+, a few more have slipped up with words or in feeble actions,

    May 19, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Kathy, AZ

    I think we can safely assume that Mr. Copeland is probably a member of the GOP.

    May 19, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. Edward MacGuire

    His eloquence matches his intelligence.

    May 19, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Ol' Yeller

    As for you 'free speech' people on here (who obviously have no idea about what that actually means) who are crying about this poor old racist's 'right' to use the n-word.... here is a a quick lesson- the guy didn't get fired, he resigned under the pressure form the community and the country over his use of 'n-word'. He didn't get fired (or put in jail- that would be government infringement on his right to free speech). The geezer called the Pres. the 'n-word" the consequences were failry swift and he was forced out.
    While he has the right to call the Pres. the N-word.... other people have the 'right' to call for his resignation.
    Of course you folks only believe in the 'free speech' part where you get to say what you want. You seem to forget it is a two way street. Just like that idiotic rancher you were all defending last month.
    Free speech doesn't just apply to you haters.

    May 19, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. henry

    Racism=Ignorance =insecurity; rampant in our society.

    May 19, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Winston Smith

    He's everything, no one needs. It's a damn shame, but think of his children and grandchildren if any, and what they have to endure because of his lunacy.

    May 19, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  14. kathy

    This just proves my point that no matter how many people deny it...racism is a huge part of the reason why President Obama is so hated.

    May 19, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. therudedog

    Please justify to me how this man did anything wrong. People today are so full of hypocrisy that it has gotten beyond sickening. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having hate for someone as long as the hate is not acted upon. No one, and I mean no one can say that they don't have any hate in them. This is no different than someone saying that they hate an athlete cause he's a traitor, or hating a certain person because they are look a certain way.

    The painful truth is that this country is becoming a nation of cry babies. As soon as someone says something that someone else does not agree with, they feel justified in making it a public issue rather than just doing the right thing. What is the right thing to do, it's called growing a backbone and sucking it up and moving along. It's idiotic to believe that by punishing people for having a belief you don't agree with somehow correct the problem. The only way to move forward is to stop pretending that this is a fixable problem. People are people, and no one man can dictate what we chose to believe. Think for yourselves, and live your life to the fullest. Hate will never cease to exist, but it also should not be reason for you to cry foul to everyone for everything you hear.

    May 19, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. bill

    not all republicans are racists, but all racists people are republicans

    May 19, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. SteveS

    Give some credit where credit is due.....Mitt Romney.
    He has a house in the area, and personally 'got involved' in asking for Copeland's resignation.

    May 19, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. joejoethedogfaceboy

    Now he should move to a southern state and/or work for the FOX network where he would fit right in.

    May 19, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. Paul

    Ohhhh the outrage! First Donald Sterling and now this. I have see post cheering and saying that he is old and him andbhis kind will die off. While it is true that HE will die, the racism he followed will be passed down to the next generation by hate groups on the web, the flying of the confederate flag and all that it represents and monuments to the confederacy that are allowed in this country. Honesty how can you be mad at this guy or any racist when racism is allowed to infest current and future generations? What would happen if I went to Germany waving the Nazi flag? I would go to jail. Deny the Holocaust? Jail. Belong to a Neo Nazi group? Jail. Thats how you rid a population of hatred. The citzens of this country are too scared and/or too lazy to get it done.

    May 19, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Confuzed

    I admire a man who calls a spade a spade. Ooops, is that politically incorrect too?

    May 19, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Artifex

    The only answer to this kind of person being in an elected office is for progressives to VOTE. The cons are counting on the usual progressive mid term apathy to let them do more damage to our Country. Look what they are doing at the state and local levels with the huge injections of outside money (remember when that used to be a bad thing?) – they are putting ideological simpletons like this old fossil in office.

    May 19, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. bcrunner

    Hard to believe that so many people are coming to his defense.. I actually had thought, prior to President Obama becoming president, that our country had moved past most of the racial divide. Unfortunately I was wrong! Ever since Obama became president, the racists daggers have come out and they don't even feel ashamed showing off their racism. But, to have so many of you coming to his defense is trully scary... and does not bode well for our country.

    May 19, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Jack Beer

    Does anybody think the average African-American feels safe on the street with this moron in charge of the police force. He belongs back in the 1950's.

    May 19, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. Mike

    Congratulations, Wolfeboro. You no longer have one of America's worst people as your police officer.

    May 19, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. Airborne84

    This is the first time I've seen more positive comments than negative. I agree with most, but particularly I agree with agreed. As for the lady that put the word out, she probably thought about this hours or days and took a risk. I praise her because she heard what a lot of others heard, and did something about it. Dislike someone for what they have done or haven't done, but not becuase of their skin color.

    May 19, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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