Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism told the crowd that the EDL said they'd come to Tower Hamlets—but the movement stopped them meeting at Sainsbury's and the RMT union stopped them gathering at a station. 'And if they ever manage to get here, there are thousands here to stop them,' he said.
'What is happening here gave [Tory home secretary] Theresa May a real migraine. She put out a plan. She wanted to keep us off the streets. But these streets belong to anti-racists and anti-fascists.'
He added, 'You have to challenge the thugs—you can't hide behind your curtains permanently. It wasn't a virtual campaign that stopped the EDL today, it was knowing that people will stand shoulder to shoulder.'
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU firefighters' union, said, 'This October is the 75th anniversary of Cable Street. People have to come out to stop the fascists.'
Denis Fernando from the Lesbian And Gay Coalition Against Racism said, 'If they get away with singling out Muslims today it will be LGBT people later.'
Alex Kenny brought greetings from East London NUT teachers' union. He said, 'We have a great tradition of standing up against racism. Our local president Blair Peach was murdered on an anti-fascist demo.
'We will stop the EDL by force of numbers on the streets—not through the laws or courts.'
Rima Amin of the NUS Black Students Committee told the rally, 'The EDL are not just confused. They promote dangerous bigotry. That's why it's important to be here today.
'[Norway killer] Anders Breivik targeted young people who were the next generation fighting Islamophobia.'
Broadcaster and author Michael Rosen closed the speeches with a moving poetic tribute to his parents, who fought at Cable Street, and a reading of Pastor Niemoller's warning about the threat of fascism.