Europe

Poles protest govt policies ousting some mayors and judges

  • Protesters carry a Polish and Solidarity trade union flags as they walk through downtown streets in a march against government plans of curbing the power of local governments and of submitting the judiciary to the ruling party's control in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, March 18, 2017. Hundreds of people, braving cold and rain attended the demonstration organized by the civic opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

    Protesters carry a Polish and Solidarity trade union flags as they walk through downtown streets in a march against government plans of curbing the power of local governments and of submitting the judiciary to the ruling party's control in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, March 18, 2017. Hundreds of people, braving cold and rain attended the demonstration organized by the civic opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protesters walk with drums through downtown streets in a march against government plans of curbing the power of local governments and of submitting the judiciary to the ruling party's control in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, March 18, 2017. Hundreds of people, braving cold and rain attended the demonstration organized by the civic opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

    Protesters walk with drums through downtown streets in a march against government plans of curbing the power of local governments and of submitting the judiciary to the ruling party's control in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, March 18, 2017. Hundreds of people, braving cold and rain attended the demonstration organized by the civic opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protesters wave Polish and European Union flags as they walk through downtown streets in a march against government plans of curbing the power of local governments and of submitting the judiciary to the ruling party's control in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, March 18, 2017. Hundreds of people, braving cold and rain attended the demonstration organized by the civic opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

    Protesters wave Polish and European Union flags as they walk through downtown streets in a march against government plans of curbing the power of local governments and of submitting the judiciary to the ruling party's control in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, March 18, 2017. Hundreds of people, braving cold and rain attended the demonstration organized by the civic opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)  (The Associated Press)

Hundreds of Poles, braving the winter cold and rain, are protesting in Warsaw against plans by the conservative government to curb the power of local governments and to subject the judiciary to the ruling party's control.

With national flags and trumpets, they planned to march Saturday from the prime minister's office past the presidential palace. The protest is organized by a civic opposition group, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy.

The group's leader, Mateusz Kijowski, told the crowd that the ruling Law and Justice party is taking away democracy and civic freedoms. He was referring to government plans to oust some city mayors and top judges and replace them with party loyalists.

European Union leaders say some Polish government policies threaten the rule of law and democracy.