After a Fort Bend County sheriff expressed concern via Facebook about potential conflicts stemming from a truck’s offensive sticker about President Trump, the owners of the truck are speaking out.
In the since removed Facebook post, Sheriff Nehls indicated that a local prosecutor had agreed to the possibility of pressing disorderly conduct charges against the truck owner for the message displayed on its rear windshield, which reads “F**k Trump and f**k you for voting for him.” The owners, Karen and Mike Fonseca, however, were stunned to learn they could soon be charged with misdemeanors.
“There’s no law against freedom of speech, nothing in the law book here in Texas, I’ve been stopped numerous times, but they can’t write me a ticket,” said Karen Fonseca.
“No plans to take it down,” her husband Mike added. “Unless he can show me where it says that in the law book, it’s not coming down until the weather takes it down or I replace it with something else.”
In a press conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Nehls appeared to back down from the idea of pressing charges, acknowledging his support for freedom of speech. However, he is still concerned that the sticker could technically be a “breach of the peace” under Texas law if it leads to confrontations with people who are offended by it.
“People have called and are offended by the language,” he said. “I simply want to talk to the owner and say, ‘Look, the last thing we need to do is have anyone have any confrontation over the language on your truck.’ We have not threatened anybody with arrest. We have not written any citations, but I think now it would be a good time to have meaningful dialogue with that person and express the concerns out there regarding the language on the truck.”
“I don’t want to see anything happen to anyone,” he added. “With people’s … mindset today, that’s the last thing we need, a breach of the peace.”
Legal experts, however, have indicated that the Fonsecas right to express their message is constitutionally protected.
“It would be dangerous to our freedoms if you start going that route where a sheriff has the right to start censoring people about what might be offensive,” said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “Is [the sign on the truck] tasteful? No. Is it dignified? No, but it’s still a person’s statement that is constitutionally protected.”