robert copeland resigned on sunday after he admitted using the 'n' word to describe president obama. the 82 year-old police commissioner of wolfeboro, new hampshire was re-elected in march. but his controversial remarks drew national attention: sparking impassioned debates in this resort town of 6,300 on the shore of lake winnipesaukee.
board of selectmen chair linda murray said, "the town is pleased. this gives us the opportunity to move on. we are a very accepting community that really takes care of each other." town manager david owen told wbz-tv, "it's about time. he needed to do it sooner to avoid the fallout we've had."
at a meeting last week, copeland defiantly sat with his arms folded. over 100 residents there pushed for his ouster and rejected his comments, saying he didn't speak for the town - or its people. copeland used the slur and an obscenity at a restaurant last march. a resident, jane o'toole, overheard him and complained to town officials after learning he was a police commissioner.
o'toole said copeland's views are within his first amendment rights. but she felt he couldn't "serve the community without prejudice." in april, copeland sent an e-mail to two other commissioners which was forwarded to o'toole. copeland said, "i believe i did the use 'n' word in reference to the current occupant of the white house. for this i do not apologize. he meets and exceeds my criteria for such."
ernie bauer, a 64 year-old carpenter (who was) at the meeting said, "i thought it was disgusting, and the way he justified it, it was even more disgusting. it was disgusting 50 years ago." o'toole said, "i feel it was the right thing for him to do to stop this incredible train that had been blowing through our town. i'm thrilled. the people of wolfeboro have stood up and said that this is not acceptable."
mitt romney, the 2012 gop presidential nominee and former governor of massachusetts owns a home in wolfeboro. he called for copeland's withdrawal, saying, "the vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community." police chief stuart chase said copeland's slur was "not indicative of the posture of this department. we treat everyone with dignity and respect."
about 20 black people live in wolfeboro, in the scenic lakes region of new hampshire. the uber conservative state is 94% white and one percent black. their police department employs 12 full-time officers - all white. town officials also said they were appalled by copeland's remarks, but were powerless to remove an elected official.
jamie murray wasn't surprised to hear racist comments: her biracial son faced similar taunts. she said, "it also gave me an understanding as to why the children think it's ok. when you're held in office, and you decide to become an elected official, you represent something higher than your own standards and your own things, and you need to stand up for the community in which you serve."
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.