THE BRONX - Armed with signs and banners, their silence spoke volumes as tens of thousands of protesters marched in total silence Sunday against the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

Members of almost 300 civil rights groups strolled down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, demanding an end to the tactic, which involves stopping, questioning and searching people deemed suspicious.

Opponents argue that the practice uses racial profiling and unfairly target minorities. Last year more than 630,000 people were stopped, most of whom were black and Hispanic men.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have repeatedly defended the policy, arguing that it keeps guns off the streets and helps reduce crime.