Darius McCollum: A Story About the Intersection of Race and Disability [trailer]
OFF THE RAILS tells the remarkable true story of Darius McCollum, a man with Asperger’s syndrome whose overwhelming love of transit has landed him in jail 32 times for impersonating New York City bus drivers and subway conductors and driving their routes.
As a boy in Queens, NY, Darius found sanctuary from school bullies in the subway. There he befriended transit workers who taught him to drive trains. By age 8, he memorized the entire subway system. At 15, he drove a packed train 8 stops by himself, making all the stops and announcements.
Over the next three decades, Darius commandeered hundreds of trains and buses, staying en route and on schedule, without ever getting paid. He attended transit worker union meetings, lobbying for better pay and working conditions for a union he didn’t belong to.
Although Darius has never damaged any property or hurt anyone in his decades of service, he has spent 23 years in maximum security prison. Darius’ recidivism embodies the criminal justice system’s failure to channel the passions of a harmless, mentally challenged man into a productive career and purposeful life.
It is a sad reality that racial oppression often intersects with disability as it does with poverty. As a Black man with Asperger’s syndrome, Darius McCollum has spent more than half of his adult life in prison as a result of his desire to belong and find acceptance.
“..He lost a sense of himself at a young age, wearing the MTA uniform gives him a sense of identity..”
Where justice systems and relationships fail, we believe that the Church provides a powerful offering of support and identity through Christ. How much more life could Darius have lived outside of prison if he’d found acceptance in a Christian community? Perhaps, he might have had a friend to advocate for Darius to be officially hired by the New York MTA or the resources to receive therapy from his experiences. The implications of a supportive, Christ-centered community are endless.
For a list of screenings of this documentary, visit: offtherailsmovie.com/#SCREENINGS