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. truthbetold1226

    Not only that, this guy is from "old school", he recalls when blacks couldn't do jack, they weren't allowed and equal shot, and this guy had the nerve to reach the president of USA... If you think he feels bad, what about Hannity, Rush, David Dukes, Carl Rowe, all avowed racist.. Oh, Cheney and Rumsfield tool

    May 19, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. M Cuddy

    He should have been fired immediately. Shame on the town officials to allow so much time to pass without taking action. He should not have been allowed to resign in his own time.

    May 19, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Michael

    I'd rather be called that than to be called a Republican. Both are equally derogatory terms as far as I'm concerned.

    May 19, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Tom

    How about all the conservative's that came out against Copeland!

    May 19, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. MarkInPDX

    For those of you saying that he's been denied his First Amendment rights, apparently you don't understand how the First Amendment works. The amendment only applies to retribution by the government. It does not mean that there are no consequences for the things we say. That's the way it's always been. Deal with it. Or don't.

    May 19, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    He was forced to resign by the liberal agenda.........and his employers.

    May 19, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. The elephant in the room.....

    In this post-racial society that we live in.... How many voters...white or black..... based their votes on the color of the Presidents skin rather than the content of his policies?

    May 19, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |

    I am still in shock that I approve of anything romney says/does; glad this disrespectful, shabby person resigned.....and Dogma 1000, I agree with you 100% re Rangel.

    May 19, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. sonny chapman

    Good Manners should trump Constitutional Rights. Those who stretch those limits for THEIR Rights , always do so at the expense of OTHERS Rights. They SHOULD be called out for what they are: SELFISH.

    May 19, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. yeahright

    He resigned, okay with that. However I do not think he should have to apologize for exercising his right of "Freedom of Speech"....That is if we still do have this right !!!


    It boggles the mind how many people do not understand what the 1st amendment means. Betty, you can go to any street corner in this country and yell the N word at the top of your lungs to your heart's content. The first amendment only protects you from the government coming and locking you up for saying it, or passing laws that abridge your right to say it. . It does not protect you from consequences from your boss, criticism from your neighbors, condemnation of people on the internet. Mr Balboni spoke his mind freely, now he is facing the consequences.

    May 19, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. rob

    Interesting that liberals can support the freedom of expression by Michael Sam but not this mayor, nor Tim Tebow.. Interesting the tolerance of those who demand tolerance.

    May 19, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. UmpireSam

    his Grandchildren or Great Grand Children must be so proud of Gramps

    May 19, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. gwood25

    Why do ignorant people always claim 1st amendment rights after saying something idiotic? You can call your wife all sorts of derogatory names and not go to jail (1st amendment rights working for you), she can then divorce you! GET IT NOW?

    May 19, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. hohotai

    So smartlawyerloquitor, are you suggesting that Romney did not represent the majority of Republicans when he called on Copeland to apologize?

    May 19, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Emily

    Those of you arguing this is some how a violation of free speech really don't understand how the 1st Amendment works.

    May 19, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. jk

    Kind of a double standard when every rap star uses the N word 100X's in one of their songs, but a white guy says it once and he is forced to resign. I personally don't like to hear it at all but there is a double standard here.

    May 19, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Take Me To The River....


    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

    is THAT a real thought? Guess it's all semantics ....

    May 19, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Scott Salser-Smith

    Calling someone the "N" word is hate speech. Yes, you are free to say it all you want. But you should also realize that the majority of your fellow citizens find the word extremely offensive and threatening. Someone in a position of power, who hires and fires police officers, falls under the scrutiny of anti-discrimination laws and should expect to be scrutinized, disciplined or fired for using such language. You free to say whatever you want, if you are willing to pay the consequences.

    May 19, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. drew

    This isn't about racism or free speech or PC or thought police - it's about a political ideology desperately trying to separate itself from its Copelands and its Bundys to remain relevant in a browner America, and not being able to because one more always shows up.

    May 19, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. sayer


    May 19, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. salty dog

    I thought you were supposed to gain wisdom with age, hatred is an all blinding emotion.

    May 19, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Javier

    This is not about the freedom of speech, as ignorant people will say. This is about a person with power and the ability to hurt people . That like a predator working as a school teacher expressing that he likes children. Wouldn't want him around your children, right ?

    May 19, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. ezra

    "-don't fuss about this jerk that represents skunk in 21st century, remove send him to prison, feed trash."
    You are talking about the executive office right?

    May 19, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. Mike D

    @Robert Cicero: Was Balboni arrested? Did he get tossed in a gulag someplace? Nope. He's a free man today. Thus, his First Amendment rights were not violated. I recommend you actually read the First Amendment and learn what it does and does not protect.

    May 19, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Joanne

    To those of you posters complaining about "thought police" – he didn't think it – he said it out loud in a public place. And for the "1st amendment rights" posters – he's not being arrested and locked up for saying anything. He has every right to open his mouth and spew hateful racist words – just like the people who feel that crude racist name calling has no place among our elected officials.

    May 19, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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