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. Geoff

    Good decision.

    May 19, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. txan

    Copeland's language and those of comments in support of him say plenty about them as self righteous and bigoted individuals. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    May 19, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Mikeed13

    Does any one realize how many people in the world feel the same way as the gentleman who resigned? What we say to your face and what we say amongst our selves is quite different. I

    May 19, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. fitzwaddle

    It has been a rough few weeks for racist octogenarians

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

    In the U.S. we have freedom of speech but if he is ignorant enough to use racist language he shouldn't be police commissioner. One can't yell "fire" in a movie theater either.

    May 19, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. Mr Tonod

    Kudos to Copeland. Excellent, Obama meets and exceeds his criteria for the word. Well of course, Obama is a Black Man and I would not be out on a limb saying this is how Copeland feels about all minorities. I much prefer to deal with overt racism then with the new breed of subtle racism that is now the main stream norm. Those like Romney, will roundly chastise such offenders as these overt racists constantly and roundly dis-spell the notion of a "post racial nation." Racism is a blight on this nation that many people White and Black think is a joke. To all of you racists out there, remember, the world will never be what it could be with such blind hatred of fellow humans. Haven't the White race done enough to people of color already. Will this ever end?

    May 19, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. deaneusaf

    One has to wonder if he feels that way about our President, how does he feel about and treat African Americans in New Hampshire. His type does not belong on a police force anywhere. Good riddance.

    May 19, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. Kel

    While I hate the use of the n-word, I don't want to see a man lose his livelyhood over freedom of speech. While I myself am a black man, I abhor the use of the word. I hate hearing my people use it as a term of endearment, when it brings along so many negeative connotations and feelings from an era long past. I, however am a solider in the US Army, and the freedom of speech is one of the things I fight for. This man simply used that freedom to express his distaste with an offensive word in a negative light. That's HIS right, and everyone elses. I don't condone this act, neitther do I condemn it. The word should be eradicated from existence by ANY race. That being said, racism will exist as long as people harbor that mentality. Not saying that this man is a racist, but his comments were seen and heard in that light. Perception is very one-sided street.

    May 19, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. mbaman

    It's sad that people honestly think that he is just a private citizen and he should be able to make the comment. He is in a position that makes decisions on employment and advancement. I could care less if someone calls me the N word in their home. But when you take that mindset and keep me from a job I am qualified for, or give me a higher loan interest, or deny my housing, or pay me less at work, that is when we have a problem. People act like it is just a word and there is nothing behind it. When black people use it, it is generally not in a derogatory way. In this case it was definetely meant to be just that. We can argue all day whether or not anyone should be able to use the word or not, that is a legitimate argument. There should be no argument that people in positions of power who make decisions about people's lives should not be able to spew hate like this.

    May 19, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. Eric

    Only black people can say tne n-word – and they do so, on public airwaves, with impugnity. Go ask Whoopie Goldberg.

    May 19, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. historygeek6

    Such a blatant display of bias at the top of a police department potentially opens every case handled under his jurisdiction to judicial review and Civil Rights violation lawsuits. So...about the whole freedom of speech thing...

    May 19, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  12. John

    It's not right what he did. I honestly don't care how he thinks.
    When an 82 year old man says what he says, I believe you can just chalk that up to his "age".
    I just think it's funny cause I thought only the south was racist, and yet Donald Sterling and this clown have opened their traps and shown everyone that it ain't just the south that has a racism problem.
    In fact, I'd be willing to wager you'll find more racists as a % outside the south vs in the south.

    May 19, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. King_GC

    Question: CNN ... Should this be considered as a front page news.....

    The Guy Said it. The town asked him to resign .. he resigned... why are we still talking about it.. what are we trying to accomplish....

    May 19, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Although I'm not in a hurry to get older I'm praying time will take the old, primitive archaic minded simpletons who cant get past their own inferiority complexes.

    May 19, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  15. Ima Hater

    ... glad free speech is at the least, still available as a "right" in the private sector. NO, WAIT, um, strike that ...
    there are two types of black people. (no, not back or african-american) One is in fact, the N+WORD! they hate whites,
    kill and murder, demand everything free from Gov.. on and on ...

    May 19, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. jim

    Imagine that–an old man (of any race) is a racist.

    May 19, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. badcyclist

    A good reminder that not all racists live in the South. There sure are a lot of them on the CNN message boards, though.

    May 19, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. Namedavid

    It is unfortunate for people to have problem with color

    May 19, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. MayCauseBlurredVision

    Both the African Americans in New Hampshire are overjoyed.

    May 19, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. James

    Yes, HE has the right to free speech, no matter how offensive,
    The Police Commissioner does NOT have that right when dealing with the public.
    He, as a police commissioner needs to refrain from allowing his personal beliefs to color his speech in public.

    May 19, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. cm

    Blue State, baby! How nice of CNN to throw Mitt Romney's vacation plans into this article; that was a great way to tie an old racist to the republican party.

    How is it even news that old people are racist? You should hear what my grandmother says at the dinner table. I'm sure there are people of every race her age that say everything that comes to their mind. They're old, they're racist, and they've stopped caring what other people think. Why is an 82 year old man a police commissioner? Does he still drive Barney Fife's car to the office?

    May 19, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. spoo

    sure, say whatever you want, but pay the consequences.

    May 19, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. dywlf

    Romney, ever the political parasite. I'm kinda glad the obamanation won, Romney would have done much worse.

    May 19, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. PP

    @ What point do Caucasians get to scream bigotry?
    Why it ok for Caucasians to be called hateful names but the moment it happens to Hispanics, or Blacks it is bigotry or discrimination.

    May 19, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  25. RIP

    At his age he doesn't have much time left on this Earth and his KKK tendencies will be buried with him.

    May 19, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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