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Texas sheriff threatens charge for anti-Trump truck decal

by Chelsea Bailey /
The truck decalKPRC-TV

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A Texas sheriff said he could potentially bring charges against the owners of a truck with an anti-Trump widow decal, angering First Amendment activists who say the officer is using his position to silence free speech.

In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy E. Nehls asked residents to help locate the owners of a truck with a window decal that proclaims "F— Trump and f— you for voting for him."

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Nehls wrote he's received "numerous calls" from drivers who are offended by the profanity in the message.

"Our prosecutor has informed us she would accept disorderly conduct charges regarding [the decal], but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it," he wrote in the post.

But Karen Forsenca, the truck's owner, was defiant Wednesday, telling NBC-affiliate Click 2 Houston that she does not plan on removing the decal, which has been on the truck for nearly a year.

  Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy E. Nehls

She also said she thinks Nehls is violating her rights by issuing a public call to find her.

"I thought the whole thing was totally crazy because it’s been on there for such a long time,” she said. "I feel it’s an invasion of privacy and every thing else because putting me on his Facebook page as a blast."

Forsenca told Click 2 Houston that she's been pulled over by multiple officers for driving with the sticker, but she said they ultimately let her go.

"I’m like they’re going to give me a ticket. If you can show me in the law book where you can give me a ticket — they couldn’t find the code so they couldn’t give me a ticket,” she said. "There is no law against freedom of speech in Texas," she added.

Related: High school students win $3 million settlement for drug searches

As a mother of 12, Forsenca said she understands why parents might be upset with the window decal, but she added that she doesn't see a difference in her sticker and the language used online.

 Karen Forsenca KPRC-TV

"This is nothing," she said. "Unless you're going to put your kids in a bubble, you can't blame it on your children."

Hours after Nehls' post went up, the ACLU of Texas slammed the sheriff for threatening free speech, citing a Supreme Court decision that overturned a conviction for disturbing the peace because the defendant wore a jacket with profanity on it.

Nehl's post sparked a swift backlash on social media, with some praising the sheriff for his decision to find the driver. Others, however, have accused him of launching a politically motivated attack against the driver because Nehls, a Republican, has announced that he is "seriously considering" a run for Congress in 2018.

In February, Nehls tweeted that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for the Texas 22nd Congressional District, according to Click 2 Houston.

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