A city councilman in Washington state is facing calls for his resignation after he used a shirtless photo to promote a middle and high school speaking tour.
Josh Binda, a Black Lives Matter activist, was first elected to the city council of Lynnwood, Washington, about 15 miles north of Seattle, in 2021. At just 23, he was the youngest person ever to be elected to office in Washington state. Since joining the city council, Binda has used his position to become an influencer with young people.
To engage with local youth, Binda has ventured on a speaking tour at local middle schools and high schools, promoting the theme that "love conquers all" and teaching students "about the importance of leading with love and chasing their dreams." To advertise this speaking tour, Binda posted a sexualized photo of himself to his Instagram account, where he describes himself as a councilman and a public figure. In the photo, Binda is shirtless, with pants slightly unbuckled and hands strategically placed near his buttocks and crotch.
"I truly consider myself a transformative leader of our generation," he wrote to caption the photo. "Someone's whose [sic] meant to shift the culture and create change that makes a difference in this world."
At a city council meeting on March 27, parent after parent expressed outrage at the photo and called for Binda's resignation. "If this were a teacher posing shirtless and sexually provocative to appeal to students, he would be fired immediately," claimed a woman identified only as Kathy, whose daughter attends a local school.
"He’s coming across as a sex object to young girls," added another mother, who wished to remain anonymous. "Pure misogyny."
"He even encouraged kids to tattoo his name on their bodies," said another parent. "Like, I don’t know what he’s thinking about."
Binda, the son of Liberian immigrants who was raised in Providence, Rhode Island, dismissed their concerns and claimed the image had been misunderstood. "I think that’s easy to sexualize something that was not meant to be anything sexual at all," he said. "I think it’s a generational thing for this to be misinterpreted."
The shirtless photo is not the only controversial image that Binda has shared on his Instagram account. Just a few days ago, he shared a photo of himself speaking at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C. Not only is his suit jacket ill-fitting, but his suit pants are so tight as to make his groin area more pronounced
He posted a similarly suggestive photo last summer.
In addition to public complaints about his photos, Binda has also come under fire for filming a promotional video in the city council chambers and for twice violating campaign finance laws. He has since been fined $1,000, though whether he has paid the fine is unclear. He has also received at least $14,000 for his various speaking engagements at local schools, though such compensation is not necessarily illegal, King 5 Seattle reported.
Binda has mostly shrugged off the criticism against him, claiming such criticism is based on "racism, discrimination, intimidation and misinformation."
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