Fort Bend County Sheriff/Facebook
A Texas woman who refused to remove a “Fuck Trump” decal from her truck after being called out by a sheriff on Facebook has been arrested on a previous outstanding warrant.
Karen Fonseca was arrested Thursday afternoon for possession and use of a fake identification, jail records show. Her bail is set at $1,500. A spokeswoman for the Fort Bend County Sheriff's office told BuzzFeed News the it received a tip Wednesday “that there was an outstanding felony warrant” for the driver.
Fonseca said that she and her husband ordered the giant, white sticker that boldly reads: “FUCK TRUMP AND FUCK YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM” 11 months ago, telling CNN, “That's our opinion on him.”
Fonseca said she has been repeatedly stopped by law enforcement while driving the truck and received negative reactions, “particularly among older white men,” but refused to remove the decal.
“A lot of females say I wish I had the balls to do that,” she told the network.
The day before, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls ignited a viral, heated debate about free speech after he posted a photo of the truck on Facebook, stating that he had “received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck” and wanted to discuss it with the driver. Nehls said the local prosecutor would be “willing to accept disorderly conduct charges regarding it.”
The post swept across social media, garnering more than 10,000 comments from people either chastising the sheriff for infringing upon free speech, or the truck driver for such an incendiary message.
“I voted for Trump. Fuck this sheriff. The first amendment applies to ALL Americans! I hope the truck owner sues the pants off of this clown,” one person wrote. “Using a badge to intimidate people of different political persuasions is a disgrace to the office he holds, and he should be removed.”
“I've seen this truck, and I would (be) pleased if the owner of this vehicle was prosecuted for disorderly conduct. My children saw this, and I was infuriated they were subjected to this offensive display,” another said.
When asked what legal grounds the sheriff had to charge the driver, Nehls responded with a screenshot of Texas' definition of disorderly conduct: “A person 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.”
District Attorney John Healey told the Houston Chronicle that he disagreed with the sheriff and his own prosecutor, saying that he did not “believe it was a prosecutable case based on the definition of disorderly conduct.”
Nehls later deleted his Facebook post due to “hate messages he has been receiving towards his wife and children,” the sheriff's office said in a statement.
“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,” the office said. “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.”
After the post ignited controversy, Nehls called a press conference Wednesday evening to explain and defend his position. While he said he supports freedom of speech, he expressed concern that the “Fuck you for voting for him” portion of the sticker “targeted individuals.”
“That's the fine line we have here because anyone traveling down the road behind them and then they see that truck and they voted for him, that's where you can see a breach in the peace,” the sheriff said.
Nehls also walked back his threat against Fonseca, saying that his office has “not threatened anybody with arrest. We have not written any citations.” His office confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Thursday evening that it will not be charging the 46-year-old with disorderly conduct.
The American Civil Liberties Union also weighed in on the debate, telling the sheriff on Facebook that it's “Constitutional Law 101: You can't ban speech just because it has 'f@ck' in it. Hey truck owner, feel free to contact the ACLU of Texas.”
As for Fonseca, it's unclear when she will be released from Fort Bend County Jail.
The decal, she told the Houston Chronicle, is “not to cause hate or animosity. It's just our freedom of speech and we're exercising it.”