RICHMOND, Texas – The driver of a truck featuring a sticker with an expletive directed toward President Donald Trump spoke out to KPRC2 after local law enforcement posted a photo of it on social media.
Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls posted a photo of the back of a white pickup truck with a tinted back window and a large sticker that reads, "F*** Trump, and f*** you for voting for him."
Here was Nehls' caption of the photo:
"I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359. If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you. Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it."
In the comments of the post, Nehls posted context about the disorderly conduct charge: "(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly: (1) uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace; (2) makes an offensive gesture or display in a public place, and the gesture or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace."
KPRC 2 spoke with the driver of the truck Wednesday.
Karen Forsenca said she and her husband have had the decal on their truck for almost a year.
"I thought the whole thing was totally crazy. It's been on there for such a long time and we have so much positive out of it -- more positive that outweighs the negative," Karen Fonseca said.
The mother of 12 said she and her husband stand by the stickers and don’t plan on taking them down. Forsenca said she doesn’t understand why the sheriff didn’t reach out to her, instead of posting it on Facebook.
“I mean, look, y'all don't know me and y’all found me. He could have done that at the same time, it is an invasion of privacy and everything else because he put me on blast on his Facebook Page,” explained Forsenca.
Nehls said he had received many complaints about the language used on the decal and that’s why posted the picture.
"I want to reach out to the owner of this truck and say 'Hey, listen, the last thing we need to do is have any type of confrontation over the language on your truck,” said Nehls during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“I drive it all the time on a daily basis, I'm not fearful, there's too much positive, and it makes people smile. They honk their horn, they give you a thumbs up, there is some negativity because we're in a diversified community, but the plusses outweigh the negativity,” said Fonseca.
There are many different opinions about not only the decal but about freedom of speech.
Fonseca said she doesn’t believe they have broken any laws. She also said, she doesn’t think what’s on her truck is any different than what is on TV and social media.
“I understand I have 12 children of our own, at the same time, what we have on the back of our truck is nothing compared to what you see every day on the music videos, see on TV and video games.”
KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said this was a free speech issue and referred to the 1971 case of Cohen v. California. According to the case, the Supreme Court "overturned a man's conviction for the crime of disturbing the peace for wearing a jacket in the public corridors of a courthouse that displayed the phrase, 'F*** the draft.'"
“Is it a slow news day in Fort Bend County, or worse yet, isn’t there any real crime?” Wice said. “The fact that it offends people doesn’t mean that anybody, particularly law enforcement, has the right to act as a censor to second guess their taste, their views, their beliefs.”
Comments on Nehls' Facebook post were varied. Some supported his message, while others defended free speech or said the sheriff's department should focus on other high-profile crime in the community.
“I don’t think people are offended, and if they are, they just need to take a deep breath, change the channel, drive by the car, and get on with their lives,” Wice said.
Nehls defended his post, commenting "It is important to respond to calls from residents, yes."
Thursday morning, Nehls deleted the Facebook post.
In a statement released to KPRC2, the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office explained why the post was deleted, "The Sheriff made the post on his Personal page. The objective of the post was to find the owner/driver of the truck and have a conversation with them in order to prevent a potential altercation between the truck driver and those offended by the message. Since the owner of the truck has been identified, the Sheriff took down the post. Due to the hate messages he has been receiving towards his wife and children, the Sheriff will not be commenting on the matter further."
KPRC2 spoke with Fort Bend County district attorney John Healy Thursday.
"I was asking them not to file that case with my office -- that I did not believe charges were merited without knowing more about the facts surrounding the display," Healy said.
Fonseca was arrested Thursday afternoon by deputies on an outstanding warrant for fraudulent use/possession of information. Bond was set at $1,500.
What do you think? Weigh in on the KPRC 2 Facebook page.