Man sentenced to nearly 7 years for attacking Black man with knife was repeat hate crime offender

A repeat hate crime offender was sentenced to nearly seven years in federal prison for an unprovoked knife attack against a Black man in California, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Ole Hougen, 45, was convicted in April for confronting a 29-year-old Black man with racial slurs and slashing the man up to 20 times in the head and chest with a nine-inch knife while the man was trying to cross the street in Santa Cruz, according to the news release.

Prosecutors say Hougen was on probation at the time of the September 2020 attack. He pleaded no contest to state charges stemming from an attack in 2018 that involved a different Black man. This latest conviction is Hougen’s fourth known racially motivated attack against Black men in the last seven years, according to the news release.

Hougen’s case represents the first conviction and sentencing in the Northern District of California under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that was enacted in 2009. Hougen was sentenced to 82 months in prison, and three years of post-released supervision.

Hougen’s sentencing comes after a recent FBI report that found hate crimes have surged to the highest level in 12 years especially against those who are assumed to be of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage.

It also comes a day after researchers with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) released a first-ever dataset of a national sample of hate crime perpetrators with data from the period 1990 to 2018 called the Bias Incidents and Actors Study (BIAS). That data revealed that during the 18-year period, hate crime attacks against Black people have remained over 40%, according to the NIJ report.

The BIAS study — which reported common traits among nearly 1000 individuals charged and indicted for hate crime offenses — also found that just over 18% of the subjects analyzed were charged with, or convicted of, multiple hate crime offenses like Hougen.

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