A full-page newspaper advertisement depicting black corpses hanging from trees and likening media coverage of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to lynching has drawn criticism in the home stretch of his reelection campaign.
The mayor distanced himself from the ad, which was published last week in the city's largest black newspaper and echoes complaints he has made about media coverage.
"This advertisement is not affiliated in any way with the Kilpatrick administration or the Kilpatrick for Mayor campaign," Kilpatrick said in a statement. "Detroiters are very passionate people, and while I appreciate the spirit of some of the content, I do not condone the images in this advertisement."
The ad states it was paid for by Citizens for Honest Government, an independent political action committee. A message seeking comment from the committee was not returned Friday.
Mayoral challenger Freman Hendrix, deputy mayor under Kilpatrick's predecessor, criticized the ad.
"I think Detroiters are good-willed," he said. "African Americans in particular will look at this ad and reject it."
The ad, which appeared Wednesday in the Michigan Chronicle under the headline "Lynching is Still Legal in America," claims the media has targeted Kilpatrick and failed to examine Hendrix's tenure as deputy mayor. It also describes recent examples of racism in the Detroit area, including hate crimes in the mostly white suburbs.
Detroit is about 80 percent black, and both candidates for mayor are black. But race and the issue of how much the city should cooperate with the surrounding suburbs have come up repeatedly in the campaign.
Sam Logan, the newspaper's publisher, said he was not aware of the ad until after it appeared in print, and that the paper "does not condone" the images.
The co-publisher of the Michigan Citizen, another community newspaper that ran a similar ad, defended it, saying it highlighted issues that need to be examined.
"I have not got one call from a subscriber or a reader who complained about that ad," Catherine Kelly said. "Not one letter or e-mail."
Kilpatrick has implied that the media is out to get him with scrutiny over his use of a city credit card on out-of-town travel and a city lease of a luxury sport-utility vehicle for his family. In May, his father apologized after comparing the media's treatment of his son to Nazi propaganda.
Hendrix, 55, has been leading Kilpatrick, 35, in polls ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.