Poles protest govt policies ousting some mayors and judges

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.