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Memorial: San Francisco Drug War Activist Virginia Resner

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #495)
Politics & Advocacy

Long-time San Francisco drug policy, medical marijuana, and human rights activist Virginia Resner died July 18 in her home town following a lengthy struggle with breast cancer. She was 60 years old.

Virginia Resner (second from left) receiving Randall Award, with Nora Callahan, Randy Credico, Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad (courtesy
The daughter of a labor attorney, whom she credited with inspiring her activism and devotion to justice, Resner joined the drug reform cause in the early 1990s after being exposed first-hand to its ravages. One day in 1991, Resner came home from work to find federal agents searching her home for evidence to use against her companion, Steven Faulkner, who had been involved in a plan to sell drugs. Faulkner ended up with a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence as a first-time, nonviolent drug offender, and Resner's career as an activist was off and running.

Tormented by the plight of women and families torn apart by harsh drug war practices, Resner became the California state director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. In that position, she played a key role in the effort to obtain presidential clemency for Amy Pofahl, who had served nine years of a 24-year sentence for a drug trafficking offense. Pofahl was granted clemency by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Resner also joined up with East Bay marijuana activists Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad in creating the traveling "Human Rights and the Drug War" exhibit, which featured photos of various drug war prisoners, their families, and information about their cases. That effort eventually produced a book, coauthored by Resner, Norris, and Conrad, "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War."

Resner received the 2001 Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action from the Drug Policy Alliance for her efforts on the book.

Most recently, Resner was president of Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she was intimately involved in the legal struggles of "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal. Despite her struggles with cancer, she managed to attend his court hearings and handle administrative items for his defense.

She will be missed.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

She will indeed be missed and hope she is... resting in peace!

She lived through & dealt with the fallout of numerous constitutional crimes committed by Dumb Evil Assholes... but something this wrong is not something I believe a compassionate soul can easily forget in the temporal world or beyond.

This atheist hopes that if their is a spiritual world Virginia got head of the line privileges.

Billy B. Blunt
Tacoma, WA

Fri, 07/27/2007 - 5:19pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I see
Virginia Ginny Resner as the beautiful warrior with the flag held high leading the charge for righteous change calling out from beyond “Who will step up and carry on.?”

When she was just a little baby she was shown by her parents Herbert and Dodi Resner that the life lived without egalitarian standards was not living. Following in the ancient Judaic traditions of a just legal system her father fought the good fight never giving into the pressures from the powers that be. Herb as a young lawyer helped free from life sentence, Thomas Moony, proving that his was an unjust imprisonment for being a labor activist that in fact he was framed by the Governor and District Attorneys for the WWI Preparedness Day parade bombing he did not commit, Herb taught: What’s right is an open case worth fighting for.

I knew Ginny when she was growing up in a colorful era of San Francisco’s history. She never swerved from supporting the front line whether on Cadillac Row, fighting the Un American house of un-American activities and of course working since early on to end the abominable inexcusable war in Vietnam.

Her Brothers Hillel, the older, and Bill, the wise, who died too young, were her support group from early on providing Health hearth home so much more than just older brothers are expected to do.

Later in the 60’s with her brothers and other Aquarian pioneers She was a force behind the Haight Asbury’s Straight Theater presenting all the famous sixties musicians and working toward a total Renaissance right in our global village and all this in the face of the sluggish empathy of a Nation of Sheep dominating the home front controlled by Nixon’s Military Industrial Complex. Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum political parties created an even more repressive society forcing dwindling personal freedoms and a corresponding rise in the will and guts it took to be among “ the loyal opposition,”

Many people here and now can pick up her story in the 80’s speaking about when she led the fight against unjust mandatory minimums . Once again, her head above the trenches, she collected information, rallied forces, wrote books, and assaulted the seemingly impregnable Establishment forces with only her beautiful smile and beatific presence to form alliances and keep up the good fight. She was Doctor King exemplified; Persistent and loving.

The same veiled threats we ignored Ginny faced head on. Where there was injustice to down trodden mothers and children because of those close to them were unfairly locked up Ginny was there for support Then came strategy then more action . Always more action.

As far as I can tell, living a State away, she then went on to battle the unjust imposition of heinous federal minions running rough shod over the will of the people and burning the advocates at the stake of puritan self-righteousness.
I hear her calling “ Who will take up the banner until the battle is won. “
If we all do we will all win. If we don’t ….. You don’t have to ask. Do what she did, act on what she said and revere how she lived her life.

She calls “Work to Legalize Liberty where ever it is still lying, before it is to late.”

God Bless you precious Warrior.
Peace and Love

Tue, 07/31/2007 - 4:42pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I knew Virginia in San Francisco during the 70's. She worked for a developer on Union Street. I was hired by this developer to renovate projects like an old hotel in the Tenderloin, and others. I was part of a crew of carpenters and Ginny was the gofer for his operation. When my buddies and I started a softball team, she became our "official" photographer. There was no person more fun to be around than Virginia, with her faithful dog "Old Blue", and she loved hanging out with us. I was into making home movies with a 8MM and Virginia is in many of them. Recently my niece took these films and transferred them to DVD. My thought today, and it was today that I was informed of Virginia's passing, is that I would like to make these clips available to any one who is interested, or maybe to put them on YouTube, a process I don't fully understand. If any of Virginia's many friends desires to see Virginia romping through Golden Gate Park, or see her having a giddy lunch on Fisherman's Wharf, please let me know and we can proceed with this YouTube idea. Tonight, I look forward to viewing the DVD again. I'm sure there will be tears. Bob Higgins,

Thu, 01/22/2009 - 6:47pm Permalink

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