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Texas sheriff says obscene Trump sticker could lead to prosecution

17 November, 2017, 01:11 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Karen Fonseca

Sheriff Troy E. Nehls says citizens in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, have been calling about the sticker displayed on the back windshield of a white GMC Sierra pickup truck often seen on FM 359.

A photo posted on social media showing a truck sticker with an expletive directed toward President Donald Trump is going viral and prompting local law enforcement to search for the driver.

Even with the negative backlash, Sheriff Nehls says he does not regret the post, but did seem to back away from considering the disorderly conduct charges.

Nehls said a prosecutor already told him she could charge the driver with disorderly conduct, which Texas defines as using "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".

Owner of the truck Karen Fonseca said she was a former employee of the county jail and that she and her husband custom-ordered the sticker just after Trump was inaugurated in January, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The Texas division of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organisation that works to defend individual rights, responded to the sheriff on Facebook, writing: "Constitutional Law 101: You can't ban speech just because it has 'f***' in it".

Nehls said he had received many complaints about the language used on the decal and that's why posted the picture.

"I think this could be good for America", the sheriff said. Forsenca said she doesn't understand why the sheriff didn't reach out to her, instead of posting it on Facebook.

Karen Fonseca made headlines after Sheriff Troy Nehls posted
Karen Fonseca made headlines after Sheriff Troy Nehls posted

During his press conference, Nehls said that he wanted to have a dialogue with the truck's owners because Trump stickers on vehicles have caused road rage incidents around the country.

Some said the sheriff was threatening Fonseca's right to freedom of speech.

Comments on Nehls' Facebook post were varied.

The sticker says "F_k Trump and f_k you for voting for him". "They smile. They stop you", Fonseca told KTRK.

"It's hard to believe that a simple sticker could cause so much arousal", Fonseca said Thursday before her arrest. Days later, the charges were dropped after police attorneys conceded that the stick-figure display was protected by the First Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1971's Cohen v. California said that a law on disturbing the peace violated the Constitution when it was applied against a man who wore the phrase "f-k the draft" on a jacket.

Nehls later shared the Texas statute he was thinking of, which prohibits language that "tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace".




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