The police commissioner of a small New Hampshire town who drew national headlines and sparked the ire of local residents for calling President Obama the N-word has resigned.
Wolfeboro Police confirmed to NBC News Monday afternoon that Commissioner Robert Copeland, who was initially unapologetic about his remarks, has resigned in response to the criticism that began in the local community but quickly spread nationwide.
Local resident Jane O’Toole spearheaded the call for Copeland’s resignation shortly after she heard Copeland loudly refer to Obama as “that f****** n*****” while complaining about having to see the president often on television at a restaurant in March, according to the Concord Monitor. When she reached out to town leadership about the remarks, officials addressed Copeland directly about the incident.
“I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse [sic],” Copeland wrote in a response, according to the Associated Press. “For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”The story caught fire nationally after dozens of residents in the mostly white town spoke out against the remarks during a public meeting Thursday evening, with many demanding his resignation.
Copeland appeared resolute in his stance on Thursday evening, arguing with residents after the meeting in video captured by local station WMUR.
“I admitted what I did,” Copeland said to an African-American woman who complained his comments were hurtful. ”I made no bone about it.”
The town manager released a statement late Friday calling the comments “reprehensible and totally inconsistent” with Wolfeboro’s “open and welcoming character” but noted he had no power to remove Copeland from his public job.
Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who often vacations on nearby Lake Winnipesaukee, weighed in on the matter over the weekend, telling the Boston Herald he backed the call for resignation.
“The vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community,” Romney said in a statement. “He should apologize and resign.”
State Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Republican lawmaker from Wolfeboro, backed resignation as well, telling the Herald he urged Copeland to apologize and resign.
“He can disagree with President Obama all he wants, but it’s not right whether it’s the president of the United States or any other American to be called what he was called,” Bradley said. “It’s offensive.”
NBC News Correspondent Kristen Dahlgren contributed to this report.