In the almost all-white town of Wolfeboro, N.H., resident Jane O’Toole was in a restaurant in March when, she says, she overheard the police commissioner use the n-word. She wrote the town manager about the language.
Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland wrote her back acknowledging that he’d called the president the n-word and adding that he had no intention of apologizing.
“I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse [sic],” Copeland wrote in the email, the Associated Press reports. “For this, I do not apologize—he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”
At a meeting Thursday, residents crammed inside the Wolfeboro Public Library, with many calling for the commissioner’s resignation, AP reports.
“Comments like these, especially coming from a public official, are not only inexcusable but also terribly, unfortunately, reflects poorly on our town,” said O’Toole, who AP reports was met with resounding applause.
Copeland refused to speak with AP and sat through the majority of the meeting with his arms folded across his chest, the news site reports. As commissioner, Copeland is responsible for hiring, firing and disciplining officers in the town of Wolfeboro, which AP reports has only 20 blacks out of 6,300 residents. AP also noted that the town’s police department is all white.
Commission Chairman Joseph Balboni Jr. told AP that he didn’t plan to ask Copeland to retire but said that he would hold a private meeting with other commissioners to “solve the matter.”
Town Manager David Owen told AP that he finds Copeland’s comment “reprehensible” but noted that his hands were tied, since Copeland is an elected official who is still in the first year of a three-year term.
While AP notes that many arrived with signs and T-shirts with the word “resign” written on them, and some two dozen people spoke calling for Copeland’s resignation, two people defended the commissioner.