CONCORD, N.H. (TheBlaze/AP) — A police commissioner who admitted to calling President Barack Obama the N-word sat defiantly during a contentious public meeting Thursday and would not apologize for his remarks.
Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland, 82, has acknowledged in an email to his fellow police commissioners he used the racial slur in describing Obama.
Resident Jane O’Toole says she overheard him use the slur in a restaurant in March and wrote to town officials to complain. Copeland wrote back and sent her part of his previous email, saying he believed he used the N-word “in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse” and Obama “meets and exceeds” his criteria for such.
“The letter really took the wind out of my sails, really,” O’Toole told WMUR-TV.
The three-member police commission held a meeting Thursday where about 100 residents jammed the room and called for Copeland’s resignation. The commissioner sat silent with his arms crossed during the meeting, in which there was no resolution.
But afterward, residents confronted Copeland in the parking lot where the commissioner had plenty to say.
“I admitted what I did,” he said to a crowd around him. “I made no bones about it.”
Things got more heated when Copeland referred to a WMUR reporter near him with a microphone: “If you want to talk further when this nosy individual leaves.”
The reporter responded, “I’m not a nosy individual, I’m a reporter doing my job.”
Copeland’s retort? “I know what you are. You’re a skunk. Goodbye.”
Wolfeboro Town Manager David Owen said Thursday that while he finds Copeland’s comment about Obama “reprehensible,” he and the board of selectmen have no authority to remove an elected official.
Commission Chairman Joseph Balboni Jr. told the Concord Monitor he doesn’t plan to ask Copeland to resign. He said, “He’s (Copeland) worked with a lot of blacks in his life. … He said some harsh words about Mr. Obama, and here we are. This woman, she’s blowing it all out of proportion.”
O’Toole, who moved to Wolfeboro four months ago, said she overheard Copeland use the racial slur to describe Obama at a local restaurant on March 6. She said she didn’t know Copeland was the police commissioner until she returned to the restaurant the next day and asked about him.
She wrote to the town manager in early April, and he replied that he was powerless to act. She then wrote to Copeland’s two fellow police commissioners. In an email response to her, Copeland included the excerpt from the email he had sent to the other commissioners.
About 20 black people live in Wolfeboro, a town of 6,300 residents in the scenic Lakes Region, in the central part of New Hampshire. The town manager’s office said none of the police department’s 12 full-time officers is black or a member of another minority. One of its part-time officers is black.