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. Name

    I applaud this man for saying it how it is.

    May 19, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. john

    Lets hope people like this slowly die off "and leave the rest of us alone."

    May 19, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. Nic

    I just don't get it. If you disagree with ones views, why do you have to interject racial slurs into your opinion? If you don't like the way Obama is running the country, then work on electing and standing behind a candidate of your choice for the next election. There's no need for disrespectful name calling.

    May 19, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. jibaro

    Well, for all those defenders of free speech, who are so outraged that this government official was pressured to resign, I'll give you two words: Dixi Chicks.

    May 19, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Susan

    When something like this is said or done openly like this with no apology it should be treated as a crime against our society with mandatory punishment–resigning is not good enough! We are a wild and overly free country that is falling apart. Let's do something to knit things back up?

    May 19, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Nancy

    Right now I can't find the words to describe how wrong it is to judge someone by the color of their skin. This is a very disturbing story.

    May 19, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Josh

    OMG, an 82yo white guy was racist? Get right out of town. Old people are racist. Your old black great grandfather hates white people. You old white great grandmother would never sit beside a black person. They are relics from the past and will soon be gone. But could we please PLEASE stop making a huge deal out of it every time one of the old coots has an outburst? Of course not, CNN needs to sell add space.

    May 19, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. calmdown24

    He is 82? Time for him to relax at home, get a garden and if he has any, enjoy his grand children. Why in the world he would waste time working a job is beyond me. But then I do not know him personally.

    May 19, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. Greg

    These are the same people who also call themselves Christians.

    May 19, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Dale

    sad thing is, I hear this word used everyday by African American kids in the locker room. No matter what I say to these kids deter such use falls on deaf ears. I tell them their parents, grand parents AND great grand parents have endured terrible abuses and have fought for over 100 years to have the use of this word eliminated, yet they throw it around like it's just another word !!!

    May 19, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Death Before Slavery

    Well whootie-do. Does it matter?

    May 19, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Name

    Obama's half black half white

    May 19, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Dean

    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
    ---------------–Too bad Obama and his administration do not feel the way you do. They use the race card every chance they get. Don't like Obamacare, you are a racist. Don't like Obama's policies, you are a racist.

    May 19, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Confuzed

    I'll take Mr. Copeland's honesty over your conformity any day. Listen to you guys whine about a comment that one man made in a restaurant in a private conversation. Like he is the only man to think this about Obama? You guys are happy that Copeland is out of a job and are now ready to crucify him. Really??? I don't know who is worse..him or you?

    May 19, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. bemar

    Well I have a response for anyone who said its freedom of speech. He is a police commissioner if he shows favor/bias towards any group he has to go. 20/6300 Afro-Americans wouldn't stand a chance. He should resign then exercise his hate as a private citizen with no power to punish/pay/opress. Looking at Don sterling, him and the rest, I feel encouraged that its narrowing to white men of a certain age. American is moving on.

    May 19, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. Sol

    Get over it, it's just word. And btw, probably used more frequently by blacks themselves.

    May 19, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  17. calmdown24

    He is 82? Why would he want to work a job anyway. I hope when I am 82 to be enjoying a hobby and the grand kids. But of course I do not know him personally.

    May 19, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. Jackson


    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".


    Farrakahn is not holding an elected office. That is the major difference.

    It's said that you either don't understand that, or chose it ignore it so you could make a nonsensical talking point.

    May 19, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. Martha

    I find it interesting, and quite morally backwards and disengenuine, when "this" is what the media uses to crush someone because of a thought which doesn't necesarrily equate to a poor work performance. The point is "Obama", has messed up in his job and people's lives were actually affected in a negative fashion directly and we have done little to call him on it and hold him accountable for his actions. Furthermore, we made very little to address the concerns of him getting into office because of his race. Make no mistake, that was part of the reason he was. "Yes we can"? ...ummm. "No, we didn't" ...and far from it.

    May 19, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. nick

    When a person shows no weakness for somebody else to prey upon. They immediately go after something you can't change that's visible ( your skin color). That's how people are.

    May 19, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. peick

    Now let's see CNN sanction people who call each other names on the forums, especially when there are religious topics being discussed.

    May 19, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Jeremy Google the one drop rule. If you look at the Prez he doesn't even look bi-racial, he looks like a light skinned black man. My brother and his children are lighter than the Prez. And we're all black. That said, it was the racists in this country that called him black. We accept mixed people as one of us, whites don't.

    May 19, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Enough is Enough

    This is your top news story? Besides, you said that you didn't cover local news when a number of Dems were caught red handed breaking the law......I guess that door only swings one way.....left......

    May 19, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. LTanya Bell

    Yes shout out for Romney. Certain words and behavior have no place in a decent society ! DUH!

    May 19, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. j007bond

    How funny that there are people associating this incident with the GOP, when, if you think about it, happen in die hard liberal New England. Now that this person has resigned, can we expect the same from stand-up comic Cris Rock? Hey, the "N" word is the "N" word.

    May 19, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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