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. Miguel

    Whew! Thank goodness Holder and Obama like white people.

    May 19, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. Proud American

    I'm glad the jerk resigned, racism has no place in our political discourse and conservatives defending him should be ashamed.

    Attack obama's policy's not his skin color or you're surely a racist too.

    May 19, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. foxbarking

    I am so tired of people and their idiotic "his freedom of speech has been violated" posts. Freedom of speech means that you can say whatever you want and the government can not censor no hold any legal action against you. It does not mean that everyone has to accept what you say and it does not mean that you are protected from any social and non government backlash.

    Think I am wrong? Go up to your boss tomorrow and tell him to F*** off and see how long you keep your job. He can't have you arrested for it and can take no legal action against you, but he can certainly take away your job.

    The people posting about this man's freedom of speech being violated are hypocrites. They have been saying that by criticizing the man, we are violating our freedom of speech. If this was true, then you are violating our freedom of speech by saying that we cannot criticize him. The idiot did not have to resign his post, he did it of his own free will. He was not forced into anything by any legal actions at all. His freedom of speech has been in no way even slightly infringed upon.

    May 19, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. jim

    this man has no business in public office, hope he loses his cushy pension too.

    May 19, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. jonneal156@comcast.net

    He was probably reading out load from some republican handbook...... Funny how Romney has to jump in and comments.. the republican party is the worst, behind closed doors they are probably raising money to support this fired police chief....

    May 19, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Racist born and racist bread and when he's gone, he'll be racist dead

    May 19, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Irving

    Interesting: CNN won't even print "THE N-WORD", a woman in Texas was jailed for saying "THE N-WORD"! So it is now illegal to even offend POE's (Persons of Oppressed Ethnicity), and yet when 'minister' Louis (Calypso Louie) Farrakhan called all Jews "blood-suckers", nothing was said about it. And when he stated that Judaism was a "gutter religion" no one even mentioned his possible resignation. So the POE's want equal rights, we're told. NO, the Jews, Italians, and the rest of the Caucasian-Americans want rights that equal those claimed and given, bto the "N-PEOPLE".

    May 19, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. jim

    when the overwhelming majority of citizens demand you leave, guess what ? you leave. this guy has gotta be one of the stupidest men in the country and has a job waiting for him on the Clive Bundy ranch.

    May 19, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. Sh

    Some people just don't get it. It is not about the word it is about the intent behind it. When Blacks use this word among themselves (Yes I am black) it is not meant as a slur or insult. In this case it was. That is and should be the difference. A words is just a string of letters put together, that have only the meaning we give them. It is the intent that is far more important.

    May 19, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. MayCauseBlurredVision

    How did someone from New Hampshire know what a black person was?

    May 19, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. James

    Hey Miguel ...They don't have to like white people ...they just don't need to dislike them, there is middle ground.

    May 19, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Mikeed13

    He spoke the truth

    May 19, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. drefromla

    it's amazing how many racists are still in this country and the supreme court struck down affirmative action – ridiculous

    May 19, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. Jeremy

    Why does everyone refer to Obama as "black"? He is bi-racial, if anything he's the peoples President. Racism will forever exist in America because of its ridiculous past. We as human beings should be mindful when we are in positions of power and authority to conduct ourselves with professionalism. If you believe there is a God, what makes people think that heaven will be segregated?

    May 19, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. Sam

    Good riddance. That's all there is to say.

    May 19, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  16. historygeek6

    He was elected to "represent" his town and his police force at all times. How does freedom of speech even enter such a discussion?

    May 19, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  17. movieguy95453

    Regardless of his opinions of the President, anyone who feels there is a standard which justifies calling someone the 'N' word has no place in public office.

    May 19, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. Thomas

    I hear the the Westboro Baptist Church is looking for a new leader. He seems eminently qualified: small-minded, racist, self-righteous and judgmental.

    May 19, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. Javier

    Less than 30% of President Obama's appointees have been white men – with over 70% minorities and a high African American appointee percentage per capita. In the President's case, I guess when it comes to racism and prejudice, actions speak louder than words. Would have been nice to hear some of the discussions that lead to those decisions.

    May 19, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Scott

    Solve racism by removing the race checkbox on forms.

    May 19, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. Jim

    I'm glad he resigned. Now all these rappers and athletes should resign, too.

    May 19, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    what an ignorant man, i

    May 19, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  23. Look Son A Retard

    It's not racist if it's true. Well Wolfeboro, you can probably kiss your clean white town goodbye, might as well build a Walmart now.

    May 19, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  24. marsha malone

    You have 3 states, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine who have very small populations of African-Americans. Old timers like Copeland have probably been racist all his life and loved the area for the fact that it doesn't have any African-Americans. I suspect there are many closet racists in these states, like this pitiful old man.

    May 19, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  25. noteasilyswayed

    We need to get rid of all corrupt and bigoted politicians.... if you cannot be blind to color, ethnicity, gender, marital status and other attributes you need not run for any office of this land, were all were created EQUAL!

    May 19, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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