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. John

    To Robert Cicero:
    This has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment guarantees the government will not stop you from saying what you want or gathering. Well, sorry, but that isn't happening here, the government is not trying to stop him from saying what he said, nor are they trying to keep from gathering and saying what he wants.
    Now, the people who elected him, essentially his bosses, are telling him that. And guess what, you say something your boss doesn't like, they can retaliate and there's nothing the 1st Amendment can do about it.

    May 19, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. edog355

    Don't fold bro – just own it!

    May 19, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    That's right Tbone and that was a time before blacks even had the most basic civil rights. Dogs were treated better.

    Good riddance to this old fossil. A public servant should never speak about the President of the United States that way. No matter how he really feels. I can't imagine being black in that town. Shuffling around with your head down just trying not to be noticed.

    May 19, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. dogma1000

    Although I 100% agree this man should resign and go away in shame. The racist trash that is Charles Rangel should follow his lead and go away also.

    May 19, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. Peter

    I have a two year old who is better behaved after getting in trouble than this guy. Time to go for a visit to the home old timer.

    May 19, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. Ingramjr

    If you hold a public office and you are an old coot who pops off in public with something vile then you need to be forced to resign as was this guy. Today it has become common for people to think they can make racist statement and not be held accountable. There is an old saying that there is no fool like an old fool and this guy proves that saying.

    May 19, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. PAT

    80 year old bigots are entitled to their opinions, but not jobs where they make decisions about people of all races. I do not care now, nor did I ever care about this man's opinion of the president. I do care that he feels free to use foul names when referencing my public.

    May 19, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. Dan Estrada

    PS: Yes, you CAN say whatever you want in America but you'll experience the pain of people's reaction just like the pain of being on the receiving end of this epithet.

    May 19, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Phil thomas

    cue the racist idiots, the good news is most of these clowns don't speak for the country. Just a small percentage of unemployed people with a lot of time on their hands. With a few heritage foundation and fox interns sprinkled in

    May 19, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. dike

    The republicans have really lost control of being civil. I so wish the Democrats win this elections, then more of these hidden crazies like this will surface out out of uncontrolled hatred and be weeded out.

    May 19, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Brian

    Interesting how everyone on this thread is calling him names and talking about hate while you are doing the exact same thing. Hate comes in many forms.

    May 19, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. DocHollywood

    Seems a lot of people confuse the right to free speech with the consequences of that said right. This man was not denied his right to free speech. In fact, he spoke quite freely. But now he's suffering the consequence of that speech. You just cannot go around with impunity anymore saying any hurtful, anti-social thing you can think of. In this case, the punishment was a just fit for the offense.

    May 19, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Marko Polo

    We are happy that the bigot came out of the closet. We do not want such hatred lurking about infecting our children. This old crotchety beast needed to retire anyway.

    May 19, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. smartlawyerloquitor

    Who cares what Romney has to say? Didn't he get blown out in an election a couple of years ago?

    May 19, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Rico

    I'd love to know what exactly is his "criteria" for said label.

    May 19, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    -don't fuss about this jerk that represents skunk in 21st century, remove send him to prison, feed trash.

    May 19, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Libmylibs

    So what? The hyporats and the PC police are at it again. Why mo outrage over Pelosi's name calling. Oh, because she is a LIBNUT. I see so its ok right

    May 19, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    he should not have resigned, he has his right of freedom of speech

    May 19, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Carmen

    It is always regrettable to hear of racial slurs and discrimination, however, we as individuals have a right to privacy and freedom of speech. It is a sad day when you cannot have a private conversation over dinner or on your telephone without someone overhearing and exploiting the situation.

    May 19, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. Fred Harden III

    When a person is a public official he/she needs to be cognizant of/responsible for what he/she says publicly. What I do think is a very slippery slope, however, is/are the time(s) when a [supposedly] private conversation is recorded supposedly devoid of someone's knowledge and made public as apparently happened in the Sterling case...i.e., where do we draw the line with freedom of speech particularly in a private setting?

    What if something is vile, but it's also true/valid? That's why I fully subscribe to my alma mater's Johns Hopkins University motto...Veritas vos liberabit...The truth shall set you free...and let the chips fall where they may...Accordingly, personally I’d rather opt on the side of accepting/dealing with occasional vile speech rather than muzzling free speech!

    May 19, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. truthbetold1226

    Shucks that isn't news. In fact, I give the guy for being up front with his racism.. The behind the back two faced racists are the ones that are low down and dirty.

    May 19, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. lawrence cook

    i salute you sir for speaking your mind.

    May 19, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. historygeek6

    Clearly with his embattled attitude this isn't the first time such things have come from his mouth. So therefore, how has he managed to stay in office for as many years as he has? What does that say about those who continued to vote him into office repeatedly?

    And also, as the commissioner who has either directly or indirectly overseen department policy regarding racial issues during his tenure, in what other ways has he negatively impacted people he perceives as N's long before this???

    May 19, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Darrell44

    Once again we get rid of another racist teabagging republicant from the ranks of our great nation. I seem to remember in school reading " WHERE ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL" the right needs to read that over and over.

    May 19, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. emintey

    It's a proud day when the police commissioner in a largely white town is forced to resign by public acclaim for making racial slurs against blacks.

    May 19, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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