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Wolfeboro police commissioner who made racist remark grilled at meeting

  • Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland puts his hands up as Whitney White--who works at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro--confronts him after the public portion of the meeting Thursday, May 15, 2014. <br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)

    Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland puts his hands up as Whitney White--who works at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro--confronts him after the public portion of the meeting Thursday, May 15, 2014.

    (Geoff Forester / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Jane O' Toole, who orginally heard the remarks made by Police Commissioner Robert Copeland back in March, stands and claps after testimony calling for his resignation Thursday, May 15, 2014<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)

    Jane O' Toole, who orginally heard the remarks made by Police Commissioner Robert Copeland back in March, stands and claps after testimony calling for his resignation Thursday, May 15, 2014

    (Geoff Forester / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland listens to the public testimony on Thursday, May 16, 2014<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)

    Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland listens to the public testimony on Thursday, May 16, 2014

    (Geoff Forester / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)

    Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.

    (Geoff Forester / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)

    Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.

    (Geoff Forester / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)

    Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.

    (Geoff Forester / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland puts his hands up as Whitney White--who works at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro--confronts him after the public portion of the meeting Thursday, May 15, 2014. <br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)

    Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland puts his hands up as Whitney White--who works at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro--confronts him after the public portion of the meeting Thursday, May 15, 2014.

    (Geoff Forester / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland puts his hands up as Whitney White--who works at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro--confronts him after the public portion of the meeting Thursday, May 15, 2014. <br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)
  • Jane O' Toole, who orginally heard the remarks made by Police Commissioner Robert Copeland back in March, stands and claps after testimony calling for his resignation Thursday, May 15, 2014<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)
  • Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland listens to the public testimony on Thursday, May 16, 2014<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)
  • Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)
  • Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)
  • Woleboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland points as he wants to end the discussion as a crowd gathers after the public portion of the Commissioners meeting ends. Whitney White continues to confront Copeland while others watch.<br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)
  • Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland puts his hands up as Whitney White--who works at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro--confronts him after the public portion of the meeting Thursday, May 15, 2014. <br/><br/>(Geoff Forester / Monitor staff)

Wolfeboro police Commissioner Bob Copeland did not answer residents calling yesterday for him to resign after he publicly called President Obama a racial slur.

Nor did the other members of the commission – Ron Goodgame or Chairman Joseph Balboni. The three will meet in private “to solve the matter,” and then hold another public meeting, Balboni said.

At least 100 people packed a back room at the town library for the commission’s monthly meeting, the first time since the racist remark Copeland made about Obama in March became widely known.

Dozens of residents called for Copeland to resign.

If he does not, residents vowed, they would demand a recall election.

“Looking beyond the moral case, the practical case is, we depend on tourism, on our reputation as a welcoming town. I would hate to think a boycott of Wolfeboro could be the result of this,” said Boz Hogan.

“Please put aside what is best for you. Do what is best for Wolfeboro and resign today.”

The commission is responsible for hiring, firing and disciplining the town’s police department.

Chief Stuart Chase said after the meeting he couldn’t comment on Copeland’s remarks, but that “locally, people understand they’re elected officials and it doesn’t reflect on the police officers.”

In the parking lot after the meeting, Copeland told one woman that when he called Obama “that f------ n-----,” he was speaking politically and not racially.

“The comment I made was directed at one single person. I have nothing but hatred for the president,” he said.

He ended the conversation when approached by reporters.

His original remarks were overheard at a restaurant by Jane O’Toole, who eventually wrote a letter to the local newspaper.

The crowd greeted O’Toole with a rousing round of applause when she approached the microphone at the meeting.

“Comments like these, especially coming from a public official, are not only inexcusable but also terribly, unfortunately, reflects poorly on our town,” she said.

The paper also printed a reply from Copeland, in which he wrote, “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.”

These remarks were more objectionable to some residents than the original statement.

“Claiming that there are some criteria a black man must avoid, lest he be classified a n----- portrays you as racist far better than simply using ‘n-----’ ever could have,” said high school student Michael Bloomer.

“I see in your quote the potential for America to see New Hampshire as a state of scared, enfeebled older white men. . . . That’s not who we are, and I’m offended to watch my town and my community represented this way,” Bloomer said.

Three residents spoke in defense of Copeland, and about four more applauded them.

“He got in trouble because he said this in Democratic New Hampshire. If he had said this in Republican New Hampshire, who knows what might have happened,” said Frank Bader, who asked why the crowd wasn’t equally outraged by racially charged comments from leaders of the Black Panthers.

In response, Daniel Lyons, a student at Brewster Academy, said he’s a Republican, and he was offended by Copeland’s remarks.

“I want people to know that not all Republicans hold such primitive and ignorant values,” he said.

Wolfeboro, a predominantly white town, consistently votes Republican in national elections, with 56 percent of voters in 2012 choosing Obama’s challenger, Mitt Romney, who owns a summer home in the lakeside town.

“I would hope that my good friend Bob Copeland would apologize for the remarks he made,” said Sen. Jeb Bradley, a lifelong Wolfeboro resident and Republican politician. “They were uncalled for and I hope he’d apologize.”

Tricia Victorin, the Wolfeboro resident Copeland spoke to privately in the parking lot after the meeting, said he was reasonable and listened to her point of view.

“But he doesn’t seem to realize that politically, no matter what he felt about the president, that wasn’t a word he could have attached to any other president. I understand the old guard, the old vocabulary. But it’s a vocabulary you educate yourself away from. You don’t stand up and say, ‘Damn right I said it.’ ”

(Monitor staff reporter Kathleen Ronayne contributed to this story. Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or by email at spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

As a non-resident and half Cherokee woman of 54 years, this scares me; and also shocks me that it could happen in today's world. An elected official, in charge of hiring, firing and salaries of the Police Dept., in an admittedly Republican (Tea Party?) city, known personally by many residents so that his views on minorities are not completely unknown, feels comfortable not only making nasty racist remarks (in a public eatery) about a black man that is also the President and therefore deserves at least some small amount of respect, but who also feels comfortable saying he feels justified in doing so AND that he "has nothing but hatred" for the President of the United States, and continues to make statements even worse that the original, and is then defended by some, speaks volumes about the town -- they did elect him after all. It also tells me, and, I am sure others like me, to stay far far away from Wolfeboro. I am half Cherokee, and have a bi-racial family - my sister and daughter are married to black men and my nieces and granddaughter are bi-racial - so it is obvious we would not be welcome there. Since Copeland is also in chaarge of the jobs and salaries of the police force there, it is also pretty obvious we would have to worry about things such as fictitious traffic violations and other racially motivated actions by the police force of Wolfeboro. I feel perfectly comfortable in saying to all persons of minority descent to stay far away from the ignorant and racially biased city of Wolfeboro, NH. And to those who voted for and/or defended Copeland the Racist, I feel sorry for you that you can approve of this ignorant, hateful man. I live in the PA Coal Region, determined by travel agencies to be the most racially prejudiced area of the country. Wolfeboro, I thank you for taking this 'title' from us!

With freedom comes responsibility and consequences. He spoke freely, now he has to take responsibility and face the consequences.

Got to love it a white person makes a comment an the media jumps up an yells racist, but a black person does it an it is ok.

Free speech ought not have "consequences" just because a mob decides that they don't like what a person says. This is mob mentality at this point. "Bush lied, people died", Bush being burned in effigy, "Bush is an inbred moron", did not hear your calling for any resignations at that time.

Just when you think humanity has evolved to a higher level of understanding, along comes some Bob Copeland to knock us back into the Dark Ages. I hope the rest of the country can appreciate that he doesn't speak for New Hampshire, and hopefully won't be speaking in any capacity for Wolfeboro much longer, either. Am all for the 1st Amendment, but Copeland's words are both disgusting and an embarrassment. He has to go.

Does anyone know what Mr. Copeland's political party affiliation is? Did he run for office as a Democrat, Republican or independent? I find it odd none of the many media stories about this elected official directly mentions that fact.

Well of course he's a Republican. All the Democratic bigots left the party years ago and were welcomed with open arms by the Republicans

Democrats just like NBA owner Donald sterling! Yes there are racist in the liberal democrat party! They were the party of slavery and the KKK!

The issues surrounding Mr. Copeland's horrific comments are not relevant to one's political inclinations - but simply a matter of being a considerate and contributing member of the human race - plain and simple. He has made it clear that he is incapable of executing his duties as an objective member of the Police Commission. His racist blinders create a safety hazard for the public and the members of the Wolfeboro Police force. He is an embarrassment to this community and MUST step down!

Sic Semper Bigitus.

This story is all over the internet! You bet Wolfeboro residents are concerned about summer tourism!! Why did Wolfeboro residents even elect WALTER, Jeff Dunham's Dummy in the first place? Sitting there with his scowl & arms folded ... My gosh, he's the dummies double? Or maybe the dummy is his double?

Lol....you go girl, very funny!

As a former Bostonian, and as someone who frequented Wolfeboro and many other towns in New England, I think his actions are scarier than anything else. If you think about the contexts in which that word was used in the past and is probably even more intensified now because many people have made adjustments (personal, professional, spiritual, social) and would never think to use that word. It is more than a political term. It is intricately laced with power, anger, hatred, history and so much more. Intolerable!

Copeland is a bigoted racist, unworthy of any community, unworthy of any Public Office, and unworthy of any support. He needs to be a man, apologize for his remarks, apologize to the President for his remarks, apologize to the people of NH for his remarks, apologize to his family for his remarks, and do the honorable thing - move to a ranch out west, preferably, with Cliven Bundy.

I suggest citizens of New Hampshire check out the town of Wolfeboro facebook page...citizens from all over the country are calling for a boycott of the town and or the state if he is not removed from office. Plus they are expressing a general repulsion of this kind of behaviour...you don't want to get a reputation for this kind of thing my friends. Better take some kind of action.

Ya think!!! I observe not one iota of sentiment in your post, that you concur with most of the civilized nations' responses, that what he did was abhorent, disgusting, uncivilized, and wholely unbecoming of ANY one holding a public office. So, LadyL...do you concur with him, or with us?

I'm curious: has the commissioner ever actually met the president in order to form this opinion? What criteria is he referencing?? Granted, as a private citizen he is entitled to any opinion that he wishes. However, as a public official, especially an official responsible for the safety of all citizens, you have to be concerned that he's a racist and how it effects his decisions with regards to public safety.

Just can't see Bob Copeland remaining Police Commissioner in the wake of this gaff. Even this peach-fuzz white boy is offended by what he said, and more so by his arrogance in the aftermath. Copeland could be dismissed on grounds of showing very poor judgment...twice. As Police Commissioner, he should've known better. Much better.

A "gaff"??????? How about ignorant, racist, abhorent drivel. Unbecoming of a private citizen, let alone a public official. Get with it!

Appears ProgJeff needs to meet DecafJeff.

This is a reminder how the democratic process and a fundamental right to free speech keep society strong and thriving. Also entertaining. For example, the person who criticized this as raising “the potential for America to see New Hampshire as a state of scared, enfeebled older white men” is fighting fire with fire: I’ll see your racial discrimination, and raise you with age discrimination!

Is there any other way to see it?!!! lol, you old cogger you!

Shame on you, Robert Copeland, for living so long and not knowing, "It takes every kind of people...to make what life's about, yeah." -Robert Palmer

That people like Bob Copeland possess such a stomach-turning attitude is bad enough. To underreact to this nasty, racist remark as Senator Bradley did on behalf of his "good friend" is to conditionally excuse it. Racists, whoever they are and despite who they hate or why, don't deserve the company of decent people.

I'm sorry but I'm on the fence about this one. On the one hand, what the guy said was terrible. And his claim that he was speaking "politically" is stupid. If he WERE speaking politically, wouldn't he have said something like, "Obama, that F---- liberal Democrat" ? ? ? No, he WAS speaking racially. No question. On the other hand, can we really fire someone for something that he is overheard to have said??? I hear people say stupid stuff all the time, I don't then ask them, "Who's your employer so I can get you fired?" That he's a racist is not in question in my mind. Whether or not he should be fired . . . that one's still up for debate in my humble opinion.

He's all done, HD. Might agree with you if he were an Air Traffic Controller, at a small air field that could not accommodate Air Force One...ahem, but he's the Police Commissioner. No, Wolfeboro ain't Gotham City. But still, the town police commish should NOT be slurring any percentage of his populace. Copeland is gone.

He was overheard in a restaurant, a public place where he is known to be the police commissioner. Imagine if your young child was sitting within earshot of this guy? I think you would have a problem with it. If a public employee says something like that out loud in public, that is wrong. He was also found to have used the "N" word within office emails. It simply is offensive and unacceptable in 2014, no matter where you live.

After Balboni closed the meeting's public comment session, many people in the audience descended on Copeland, who remained seated at the commissioners' table and staunchly refused to engage them....I cant believe no one was arrested for speaking out of turn, violating some rule, or being disrespectful. I guess the parents at the Gilford meeting used the wrong tactics. They should have waited until after the meeting and "descended" on the board members. Surely that would have been allowed.

I'm curious...did the board invoke the 2 minute rule, and have a police officer on duty for this meeting??

Maybe the speakers were respectful of the rules and allowed others to speak. Have you considered that?

the 2 minute rule is invoked before the meeting..or..at least it was in Gilford

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