As your Mayor I would like once again to thank all those who helped ensure Saturday’s anti-EDL protests were dignified, peaceful and such a powerful display of community unity in the face of those who sought to divide us.
The EDL wanted to parade their message of racial and religious hate through the streets of Tower Hamlets. They even assembled on the exact spot where their political ancestors, Mosley’s Blackshirts, gathered on October 4th 1936. They wanted scenes of violence and disorder broadcast across our TV screens. They wanted Sunday’s newspapers to be carrying stories about multiculturalism in crisis. They failed. Instead it is the EDL who are the ones getting the bad publicity for their intimidating and violent behavior. Our borough has emerged stronger, more united, and more committed to a multicultural Tower Hamlets than ever before.
So it is right we give thanks where it is due.
The Home Secretary deserves our thanks for listening to community concerns and taking the decision to ban the EDL.
The police deserve our thanks for applying for the ban and their professional operation on the day. It is never easy getting the balance right between firm and sensitive policing, but I thought they did a great job. I asked our young people to put their faith in the police to protect our community from racist thugs. The police repaid my trust in them. Their actions have helped further strengthen relations between the community and the police.
The residents, of Tower Hamlets, deserve our thanks. Thousands of residents expressed their opposition to an EDL march via the democratic process. They lobbied, petitioned, attended public meetings, and applied political pressure. That pressure helped strengthen my hand in calling for a ban.
And thanks to all the community leaders, trade unionists, faith groups, anti-racist campaigners, politicians and business leaders who all came together to support our endeavor to stop the EDL. I knew when I spoke at the packed United East End public meeting on July 29 we had an extremely powerful coalition. This coalition emerged in circumstances none of us wanted, but it is has gone from strength to strength and is now a powerful voice for One Tower Hamlets.
Once a ban was introduced we saw inspiring examples of civic leadership. It was not accidental or good fortune that Saturday’s events were peaceful; it was the direct intervention of our young people that ensured it was peaceful. I saw their commitment on Friday night when near 400 gathered in the London Muslim Centre to finalise plans for stewarding. And I saw their commitment throughout Saturday when groups of our youth, wearing bright stewards visors, gathered at potential ‘hot spots’, working hard to keep the peace and reassured stall holders and shop keepers to keep business open as usual.
I spent all day on the streets. Although during that time I did not see a single politician from the opposition parties I did see our youth providing real leadership. It was an inspiring sight to behold. It made me proud and confident about our leaders of the future.
Londoners treasure the fact that our city is the most multicultural city in Europe, and the residents in Tower Hamlets treasure the fact that ours is the most multicultural borough in London. Multiculturalism is embedded into our very identify; it is who we are, there is no turning back the clock.
And that’s the reason the EDL and the racists will never win.