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. Mailu

    I did not know New Hampshire had racists...

    May 19, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. Name

    Biggest racists in power would be Obama himself and his tag a long Eric holder.

    May 19, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Wit-Sec

    So black people are the only ones allowed to call black people the n- word?

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

    Hey what's da problem...the old man hit the nail right on the head!!!

    May 19, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Mark

    We all know that racist only live in the South.

    Woops.

    May 19, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Freedom of speech?

    So this woman overheard this guy at a restaurant where he was voiceing personal opinions that in no way effect his job performance and people force him to resign? Freedom of speech was never put into effect to protect the popular opinion; only to protect those with the unpopular opinion. While he may be "wrong" and ultimately just insulting to our president that should not be enough to cause him to lose his job. He should only, in my opinion, be known as that Jerk police commissioner.

    May 19, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. readerpan

    If semi-literate fools like "anonymous" are what the racists depend on to make their case, we have nothing to worry about.

    May 19, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Lous

    He will go down in history as One of the LAST racist in America!!!

    May 19, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. Bruce Eder

    Hey, the fact that some African-Americans use the word is a separate issue - this man represents the government, and the wing of the government that is supposed to operate (for the safety of all) in as even-handed a fashion as it is possible to do. If he harbors outlooks such as that, then he is very likely unfit for that role, and the fact that he saw no reason to apologize over his word usage confirms this. And in case you haven't noticed the courts have continuously held that law enforcement officers can be held to a higher standard of behavior, even in their personal and private activities, than other members of society.

    May 19, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  10. Sam

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone......wow look at all the sinners including CNN.

    May 19, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  11. He who funds your EBT card

    Finally, somebody who doesn't rely on lawyers and sensitivity training garbage to make up a nonsense apology. I have to respect the old man. Apparently, honesty is frowned upon.

    May 19, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. herchato

    Still a lot of old white men and women around who really believe they are a step or two higher up the evolutionary ladder than those of color. Many have convinced their children of the same, kinda sad but It will go away some day, probably not in our lifetime.

    May 19, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Jodo

    obama has spent the last six+ years trying to make Americans hate each other for his own personal gain. Therefore if there is an increase in the level of hatred or racism in the country, all that you can say is 'good job barak. You got what you wanted.'

    obama is the most dishonest, dysfunctional president in my very long lifetime. He is getting all of the respect that he deserves. So enough with the gurlywhine

    May 19, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. blf83

    Wise choice – late, but correct.

    May 19, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  15. Riddelup

    The resignation is the beginning his actions as a police officer and any Black person convicted by his testimony shoul be freed. And anyone not hired because of him should be reviewed. Any public official sitting with him who did not report the incident should be reviewed and given the opportunity to appologise publicly or face the same fate.

    May 19, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. berniecat@outlook.com

    100% republican fascist USA !

    May 19, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. jay

    this man used the N-word to discribe obama .... ok ..... so did rev. jesse jackson – remember ????? i didn;t think so.. and this is somehow different ?

    May 19, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. V

    The problem @agreed, is that there are too many people who think that "he is a terrible president" solely because of his pigmentation. For those people, there is no more thought required. Wrong pigmentation = "terrible president" and they will do countless feats of mental gymnastics to rationalize that assessment.

    Republicans (and racists) have a big problem with cognitive dissonance. It's ok if a white republican does it, but a black democrat? suddenly it's bad for some mysterious, inexplicable reason.

    May 19, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. john pickett

    Now that he's free maybe he can buy a NBA team too

    May 19, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. Michael

    Racism is racist and so are racists.

    May 19, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  21. tonyb

    good riddance.

    May 19, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    @name, really? Has our President ever called somebody, that we know of, a cra cker or P W T or trailer trash?
    Even those names are next to nothing compared to the "N" word and this old guy sticking to his guns (pun intended)..
    BTW – the sheriff's thoughts are really that a black (and white) man can grow up to be President and go to Harvard but he's too dumb to realize what he even said.
    He is way past retirement age anyway.

    May 19, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. juniper

    Jane O'Toole must find a place in the Hall of Fame for Good Hearing.

    May 19, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. Laurence

    I'm sure he'll either be on the GOP ticket for the next election, or praised and hired by the Tea Party, since he perfectly hits their agenda on the head.

    May 19, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. jim

    bye bye and take your white sheets with you

    May 19, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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