HOUSTON — Karen Fronseca, the Stafford woman who has gained national attention for the anti-Trump decal on the back of her pickup truck, held a press conference Monday morning with her attorney and Texas lawmaker Ron Reynolds. Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls' response to the controversial sticker has launched a debate about freedom of speech.
The driver has since added a second, matching sticker directed at Nehls to the back of her truck. It reads: "F**K TROY NEHLS AND F**K YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM."
Fronseca, who was recently arrested for unrelated charges after coming forward, said she is overwhelmed with mixed emotions as the situation unfolds.
"I feel we are all entitled to our freedom of speech. We should stand together and always stand behind what [we] believe," Fronseca said. "I'm just one person, but if I can be used as bait for Troy Nehls to gain approval for him to gain supporters in his race for Congress against Pete Olsen, then this how the system works. "
Reynolds said he considers the situation unfair and a grave injustice.
"Let's put this whole situation into context," Reynolds said. "I've witnessed [...] for the last eight plus years, former President Barack Obama with nooses around his neck, pictures with constant depictions of him and the n-word regarding him and the former first lady. Michelle Obama. I witnesses F-Obama bumper stickers right here in Fort Bend County."
The representative added he found those images and others highly offensive and reprehensible.
"However, I don't ever recall seeing any complaints of disorderly conduct from Sheriff Nehls personal Facebook page about those individuals," he said.
In bold uncensored letters, the sticker reads: "F**K TRUMP AND F**K YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM." In the middle of the image is an obscene hand gesture. The decal, which Fronseca said her husband enlarged, had been on the truck for eleven months before catching the attention of the sheriff's office.
Other drivers and residents — both opposed and supportive of the statement — took countless pictures of the vehicle and posted the images to social media. On Nov. 15, Nehls posted a message on his Facebook page that demanded the unknown driver come forward after the sheriff's office received several complaints from concerned residents.
In the post, Nehls said he had consulted with prosecutors and the driver would be hit with charges for disorderly conduct if a modification wasn't made. Within hours, the post was flooded with thousands of comments and reactions from Facebook users with a wide range of sentiments.
Most condemned the sheriff for violating the resident's first amendment rights; some demanded Nehls be fired from the department; users claiming to be lawyers offered the offered the driver legal assistance if prosecuted; and others criticized the officer for not greeting the owners of confederate flags and graphic anti-Obama decals with law enforcement action.
On the other side, many parents argued the decal was overtly offensive and inconsiderate of children living in the area. Supporters praised Nehls for taking action and attempting to find the driver.
Nehls released a statement after watching the press conference, explaining he took action because of residents' concerns about the sticker's obscene language.
The sheriff released the following statement:
"The intent behind the post was to identify the owner of the truck with the intent on speaking with that person(s) and have a conversation with the owner regarding the complaints I received and a possible modification of the sticker. My post also included my office phone number.
As a result of the posting, we received information which helped us identify the owner of the truck. Once we identified the owner of the truck, we took down the post. As a result of the publicity, we also received information that Karen Fonseca was wanted on a Felony warrant pursuant to a grand jury indictment.
Once we verified the outstanding warrant, steps were taken to serve the warrant. This warrant was served in a professional manner and without publicity on the part of the Sheriff’s Office. It is to be noted that the case surrounding this warrant was not one investigated by the Sheriff’s Office; we only served the Felony warrant.
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.
In the beginning of this incident, I was hopeful that the person driving around with an obscenity for full view of all (including children) would be reasonable and would be willing to talk about coming to an agreed solution that satisfied her 1st Amendment rights while respecting the rights of parents and others offended by this display of an obscenity.
Having heard her talk in the public since the beginning of this, I am now quite aware that no such hope for a calm and reasonable discussion exists with her. This is sad and I hope that in the end she can come to see that just because citizens may have the legal right to do something, it does not always make it the right thing to do.
Neither I nor the Sheriff’s Office will be issuing further statements concerning this matter as it relates to these now past events as it only serves to bring added publicity to this display of obscenity."