updated 12/1/2009 2:42:15 PM ET 2009-12-01T19:42:15

Hecklers in the audience broke into a loudly sung version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and forced a high-profile Arizona sheriff to abandon a First Amendment forum sponsored by Arizona State University's journalism school.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was asked by a panel of journalists Monday night to explain his relationship with the media, his various law enforcement policies and whether his office conducts racial profiling.

Arpaio told the panel that his office is an "equal opportunity law enforcement agency" that will arrest anyone who violates the law.

Later in the interview at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, protesters began singing a version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and chanting as Arpaio was asked about a federal investigation and his policies on illegal immigration.

The sheriff told the panel the outburst was "ridiculous" and he left the stage.

ASU journalism school dean Christopher Callahan later called the protest misplaced.

Arpaio, the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America," made news in late July when the federal Homeland Security Department asked him to stop arresting illegal immigrants whose only crime was crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without documents.

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