The various law enforcement agencies that did nothing to help the people of West Pawlet are probably breathing a sigh of relief, now that an Environmental Court judge has ordered the Slate Ridge
school terrorist training ground to close permanently for operating without the proper permits. Slate Ridge proprietor Daniel Banyai is on the hook for more than $46,000 in fines, plus the costs of dismantling all nonconforming structures.
But that sigh won’t last long. What are the chances that Banyai will meekly comply? I’d say zero. You may recall the 2007 case of Ed and Elaine Brown, two racist, anti-Semitic tax resisters who believed the whole “sovereign citizen” nonsense. After being convicted for refusing to pay their taxes for a full decade, they holed up in their Plainfield, New Hampshire compound and basically dared the feds to come and git ’em. The resulting standoff lasted 10 months.
Resolving the Banyai matter may well be a lot more complicated than that. So the folks who did nothing (Gov. Phil Scott, Attorney General T.J. Donovan, the Vermont State Police et al.) will eventually be obliged to take action.
Or they’ll just let the ruling to unenforced. Which would be the height of official cowardice.
The Browns had stockpiled food and weaponry, and were able to live off the grid thanks to solar and wind power. (Hey, there’s a reason for conservatives to support the Green New Deal!) They warned authorities that the property was heavily booby-trapped. They also insisted they would never peacefully surrender. The entire process required a heavy police presence.
Banyai is on the same ideological extreme as the Browns, and he may be in a stronger position to weather a siege. He may have a number of “students” on “campus” who are presumably combat-trained and well-armed.
This thing is likely to go on for quite a while. At the very least, a lengthy siege is almost certain. There won’t be an easy way out. The judge’s ruling was the easy part.