A woman who plastered her car with a large “F*** Trump” sticker has said she is considering launching a lawsuit against the Texan Sheriff who arrested her after discovering the sign.
Troy Nehls, a Republican sheriff who serves an area southwest of Houston, penned a Facebook post calling for the driver of the vehicle displaying the “F*** Trump and f*** you for voting for him” sticker to turn themselves in.
He said the sticker was upsetting locals and there had been numerous calls regarding the “offensive display”. Mr Nehls also claimed a prosecutor had informed him he could charge the driver with disorderly conduct.
Texas defines the latter 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.”
"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,” Mr Nehls said in his since-deleted post which went viral.
Kate Fonesca, the driver of the stickered vehicle who used to work for Sheriff Nehls in the county jail, was arrested by him outside of Houston on an outstanding fraud warrant on Thursday.
Her husband, Mike Fonseca, said his wife was arrested at their home in front of their six-year-old daughter. “I think it's the sticker,” he told a local ABC affiliate in an attempt to explain the reason for Ms Fonseca’s arrest.
Ms Fonesca, who was released on a bond of $1,500 later the same day, told reporters she thought she was targetted because Mr Nehls found the now infamous sticker offensive to US President Donald Trump.
The 46-year-old, who has now added a new sticker which reads “F*** Troy Nehls”, held a press conference outside the Fort Bend County Justice Centre on Monday morning to voice her opposition to the sheriff.
Ms Fonesca, who is the mother of 12, said her rights had been violated and the sheriff had “messed with the wrong person”.
She said: "It's not two wrongs make a right. It's making my statement and saying, 'If you're going to put me on blast and you want to gain some votes, let's put the real Troy out there and give you what you wanted.'"
Brian Middleton, Ms Fonesca’s lawyer, said he said he was keen for the FBI and the Texas Rangers to investigate Mr Nehls. He also said he was considering filing a civil rights claim against the office and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had voiced their interest in the case.
Mr Middleton said: "This is protected speech. So anyone who has a sticker like this is within their rights under the US Constitution."
Mr Nehls responded to the press conference by releasing a lengthy statement, saying the warrant had been served to Ms Fonesca in a “professional manner”.
He said: "The facts in this case as I see them are that Karen Fonseca wanted to place her feelings into the public realm by driving around with an obscenity on her vehicle.”
“She got just that - much public recognition. This recognition did not cause her to be indicted by a grand jury for Felony Fraud (this happened back in August of 2017), but it did bring the subsequent warrant to our attention and we did our job by arresting her.”
The ACLU responded to Mr Nehl’s original Facebook post by saying: "Constitutional Law 101: You can’t ban speech just because it has “f***” in it". It included an invitation for Ms Fonseca to contact them if needed.
Mr Nehl’s original post attracted more than 10,000 comments from people who were deeply divided between berating the sheriff and Ms Fonesca.
“It’s not to cause hate or anonymity. It’s just our freedom of speech and we’re exercising it,” Ms Fonesca said in theaftermath of her arrest.
Law enforcement officers trying to prosecute people for using the four-lettered expletive against the government have already been struck down by the Supreme Court. In 1971, a California judge ruled in the Supreme Court case Cohen Vs California that a “F*** the draft” jacket did not break the law because it was not likely to incite violence.
A woman was fired from her job at a government contracting firm for violating the “code of conduct policy” in October after an image of her trailing President Trump’s motorcade on her bike to give him the middle finger went viral.