Police commissioner in Wolfeboro, N.H., won't say he's sorry for Obama racial slur

Critic fears police commissioner's Obama slur could spark a boycott of Wolfeboro, N.H., "the oldest summer resort in America."
By Frances Burns  |  May 16, 2014 at 11:53 AM
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WOLFEBORO, N.H., May 16 (UPI) -- The police commissioner of Wolfeboro, N.H., a small town on Lake Winnipesaukee, has refused to apologize for using a racial slur to describe President Barack Obama.

Many of the 100 people who attended a community meeting Thursday night called for Robert Copeland's resignation. Copeland, 82, said little, although he told a woman in a conversation later in the parking lot that he has "nothing but hatred for the president."

Wolfeboro bills itself as "the oldest summer resort in America." Summer residents have included Sir John Wentworth, the British governor of New Hampshire at the time of the American Revolution, Princess Grace of Monaco, and currently, former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Some of the speakers Thursday said they would try to recall Copeland if he does not quit.

"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," Boz Hogan said. "Please put aside what is best for you. Do what is best for Wolfeboro and resign today."

The controversy began when Jane O'Toole, a Wolfeboro resident, wrote a letter to a local newspaper saying she had overheard Copeland in a restaurant describing Obama with adjectives that were both racist and obscene.

Copeland was invited to respond and did so in terms some said were worse than his original remark: "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."

O'Toole got cheers when she stood up to speak. She said Copeland's statements "reflect poorly" on Wolfeboro.

Michael Bloomer, a high school student, said he was afraid Copeland's remarks make New Hampshire look like "a state of scared, enfeebled older white men."

Copeland had a few defenders, who suggested the criticism was political and that Wolfeboro is a Democratic town. In fact, Romney carried the town in 2012 with more than 56 percent of the vote.

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