On Thursday evening, the town of Wolfeboro, NH held a town meeting to discuss the words and actions of its 82 year-old police commissioner, Robert Copeland. Back in March, Mr. Copeland was at the bar of a local restaurant and complained loudly about President Obama. He yelled out that he could not watch television anymore, because every time he turned it on, there was “that f***ing n*gger,” referring to the President. One of the town’s residents, Janet O’Toole, overheard the comments and engaged Copeland. He proudly took credit for his remarks.
Only after finding out that he was one of the town’s three police commissioners, and seeing him get reelected, did O’Toole act. She wrote a letter to the town manager. The manager informed her that her complaint would need to go directly to the police commission. When she wrote to the commission and received a response directly from Copeland, she decided to contact her local paper, The Granite State News. The paper ran a copy of the letter she wrote the town manager as well as a letter in response from Copeland himself. Copeland’s response was unbelievable.
“While I believe the problems associated with minorities in this country are momentous, I am not phobic. My use of derogatory slang in reference to those among them undeserving of respect is no secret. It is the exercise of my 1st Amendment rights. I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse (sic). For this I do not apologize – he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”
In Copeland’s mind, he sees no problem with slinging racial slurs at our President, since apparently President Obama is undeserving of any respect. Taking that logic, it seems he feels it is perfectly fine for him to call any minority a racial slur as long he feels they deserve it. Obviously, this is phony tough rhetoric. The man is not saying this to the face of the President, or any other minority. The town of Wolfeboro has over six-thousand residents. Only about 20 of them are black. Therefore, this old bigot feels emboldened to display his ugly, racist behavior because he feels that nobody will do anything or object to his words and actions.
Thankfully, the residents of his town were rightfully disgusted, especially as he was so indignant and refused to apologize. Not only refused to apologize, but doubled down in his racism. At the meeting on Thursday night, around two dozen people took to the podium and spoke out against the commissioner, calling on him to resign. Only two people spoke in his defense. However, despite over 100 people attending the town meeting, with nearly all of them wanting Copeland to quit, the town’s other two police commissioners have said they will not ask Copeland to resign. Instead, they will leave the decision to him.
It will be interesting to see how long Copeland remains defiant. This is now national news, and his behavior has brought a lot of unwanted and negative attention to the town. It is also another example of an old, white bigot making national headlines for saying offensive things. First, we had Cliven Bundy. Then, we had Donald Sterling. Now, we have police commissioner Robert Copeland.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).