NH official urged to resign for using racial slur to describe Obama

May 16, 2014, 3:57 pm
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Photo: Thomas Beeler/Granite State News

Pressure is building on a Wolfeboro, New Hampshire police commissioner to resign after his refusal to apologize for using a racial slur to describe President Obama.

A day after a meeting at which town residents called for the resignation of Robert Copeland, the Wolfeboro town manager posted a statement on the town website on Friday saying town officials are "appalled" at Copeland's remarks and asking Copeland to step down.

"The Wolfeboro Police Commission is a separately elected Town board that does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen or Town Manager, and there is no provision in New Hampshire State Law or the Town's ordinances that would enable us to remove Mr. Copeland from his elected position on the Police Commission for his egregious behavior," Town Manager David Owen said. "Therefore, we are hopeful that Mr. Copeland will accede to the public outcry and finally do the right thing and resign from his elected position to save the Town any further embarrassment of his making."

Wolfeboro resident Jane O'Toole said she overheard Copeland say the slur in a restaurant in March and wrote to the town manager about the incident. Copeland wrote an email acknowledging he said the slur which read, "I believe I did use the 'N' word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse. For this, I do not apologize - he meets and exceeds my criteria for such."

About 100 residents of the town turned up to Thursday's Wolfeboro Police Commission meeting with handmade stickers which read "resign." People who attended said they couldn't recall the last time something sparked so much outcry in the community.

"Comments like these, especially coming from a public official, are not only inexcusable but also terribly, unfortunately, reflects poorly on our town," said O'Toole.

Former Republican state senator and 2nd District Congressional candidate Gary Lambert also issued a statement Friday calling on the police commissioner to step down.

"Mr. Copeland's comments regarding President Obama are completely unacceptable and offensive," Lambert said. "Bigotry and racism such as this have no place in our society and certainly have no place in our political dialogue. I join many others in calling for Mr. Copeland's immediate resignation. If he refuses, I would urge Wolfeboro town leaders to remove Mr. Copeland from his post as soon as possible."

Copeland is one of the three members of the police commission in the town, which controls the hirings, fires and salaries of police officers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Tags: new hampshire, meeting, President Obama, resign, Wolfeboro, Robert Copeland
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