A Texas sheriff has come under fire after threatening a driver with misdemeanour charges for attaching an anti-Trump sticker to his vehicle.
Sheriff Troy E. Nehls of the Fort Bend Sheriff’s Office posted the threat on his personal Facebook page on Wednesday, but the post has since been deleted.
“I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359,” the post read. “If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you.”
Mike and Karen Fonseca own the vehicle and are surprised the decal, which has been on the truck for 11 months, is all of a sudden the subject of so much attention.
“F Trump and FU for voting for him,” Karen said, reading the sticker posted on the rear window of her truck.
“I drive it all the time on a daily basis, I’m not fearful, there’s too much positive, and it makes people smile,” she told KPRC. “They honk their horn, they give you a thumbs up, there is some negativity because we’re in a diversified community, but the pluses outweigh the negativity.”
But Nehls, who is considering a run for a seat in Congress as a Republican candidate next year, says the sticker is inflammatory.
“They’re fighting words because now you’re challenging an individual,” Nehls said.
“You’re focused on that one person because it says an ‘FU’ for voting for him and that person gets offended and all of a sudden screaming and yelling and the sheriff’s officer and the local police get called. Now you have a breach of the peace,” he told KTRK.
Nehls believes the sticker is enough of a threat to public safety, that he inquired about possible charges.
“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,” Nehls added in his Facebook post.
Mike Fonseca said the anti-Trump sticker would remain on his truck.
“There’s a lot of things I don’t like that he’s doing. Like him wanting to deport people, break up families and build the wall,” he said. “Until they show me something that’s on the law books saying I have to take it off, it is staying up there.”
Nehls later responded to his Facebook post with a photo of the Texas criminal code that outlined potential laws the decal could violate.
Facebook users responded to Nehls’ post with plenty of criticism.
“I have seen plenty of other bumper stickers with profanity on them and have you taken legal action on any of those?” user Kelly Walker wrote. “I think this is more a problem with political speech than actual language.”
“Well if we’re going to crack down on offensive car decor, then please do something about all the heavy breasted naked women stickers and testicles hanging off the backs of trucks,” posted Jessica Seathoff. “I haven’t seen anyone bat an eyelash at those, but you care about this?”
The American Civil Liberties Union also took to social media, responding to the sheriff saying he was not legally able to prosecute the Fonsecas for the sticker.
Fort Bend County residents had mixed reactions to the decal.
“Since it’s our president, I think we should have some respect,” one man told KPRC.
“I agree with the message, but the way, the vulgarity of it is not appropriate,” another resident said.