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DETROIT - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick lashed out at his opponents and the news media last night, accusing them of showing a "lynch mob mentality" amid a scandal over his exchange of sexually explicit text messages with a former top aide.
He made the criticism as he finished reading his written speech, released before his State of the City address. The written version alluded to the text-message controversy only briefly.
The case has led to a criminal probe of whether Mr. Kilpatrick lied under oath when he denied an affair with his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, that was revealed in the text messages.
Mr. Kilpatrick, who is black, said he and his family have been subjected to racial slurs as well as threats.
"In the past three days, I've received more death threats than I have in my entire administration," he said. "I've heard these words before, but I've never heard them said about my wife and children," he continued, his voice rising as he wagged his fingers and gestured with his arms.
"I don't believe that a Nielsen rating is worth the life of my children or your children," he said. "This unethical, illegal, lynch mob mentality has to stop."
The angry tone contrasted with earlier references in what was Mr. Kilpatrick's seventh State of the City address to what he called a "transformed Detroit."
He promoted an economic stimulus package and promised improved public safety and the creation of new jobs.
Four members of the nine-member Detroit City Council did not take their customary seats behind him on the stage.
City Council is expected to consider a resolution next week calling for the mayor to resign, but Mr. Kilpatrick called for city leaders to work together.
During a whistle-blowers' trial last summer, Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty denied under oath that they had a romantic relationship.
The text messages from 2002 and 2003, released by the Detroit Free Press in January, contradict those statements. Ms. Beatty has stepped down.
A lawsuit was filed by two former Detroit police officers who said they were fired or forced to resign for investigating claims that Mr. Kilpatrick used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs. The suit eventually cost taxpayers $8.4 million,
Before the speech began, 60 members of Detroit municipal unions picketed outside, urging the mayor's resignation or ouster. They carried signs with messages that included, "Fire the mayor," "Lay off Kilpatrick now" and "Kwame must go."
The protesters cited the text message scandal as well as layoffs of public workers.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is expected to decide this week whether she will pursue perjury charges against Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty.42.33168 -83.04792