Popular San Diego Farmers Market Files Restraining Order Against Well-Known Street Performer

October 23, 2023

After a series of escalating incidents, a popular local farmers market has filed a restraining order against a well-known area street performer.

It started with the staff of the weekly Little Italy Mercato farmers market politely asking San Diego street performer Joe Dreamz to turn down his music. It soon became an online fiasco when videos of the encounters began to make their rounds online.

"I have NEVER asked him to leave, only to turn his volume down because he would set up 10 feet from farmers and vendors and blast his music so loud they couldn't hear their customers for the entire length of the market hours and their sales would plummet," explained Little Italy Mercato manager Brijet Myers. "I know he has all these fans but I find it hard to believe that those people would feel the same way if he showed up at their workplace, set up his huge speaker within 10 feet of them, and played the same songs on repeat for their entire work shift and they couldn't walk away or hear a word their customers were saying." Rapper Joseph "Joe Dreamz" Harrison boasts an impressive following of over 20,000 on Instagram alone. He is well-known for performing outside Padres games and singing his local hit, "Slam Diego," which has earned him multiple appearances on local news stations, most recently being featured on CBS 8 San Diego. The CBS 8 feature, which aired last week, outlines some of Joe Dreamz's recent issues with unwelcoming persons.

Since Joe Dreamz began posting videos on his Instagram depicting his encounters with Little Italy Mercato employees, the farmers market has been bombarded with harsh comments, messages, and negative reviews across various online platforms. This intensified situation led Myers to obtain a temporary restraining order against Joe Dreamz, which was served to him last weekend. As soon as the news of the TRO became public through a post on Joe Dreamz Instagram account, the market was unfairly accused of racism by some of Joe's supporters, and Myers even received at least one death threat through a phone call to her home in the early morning hours.
"He's been harassing me online which is why I filed a restraining order," continued Myers. "The TRO literally says nothing about music. It's about him coming to my workplace, taking videos of me, and posting them online for the purpose of harassment."Joe Dreamz has admitted to past mistakes and aspires to continue performing at various markets and events in the area. He previously posted a video showcasing a negative interaction with employees of the Hillcrest Sunday Farmers Market and has also acknowledged past issues with the Ocean Beach Wednesday Farmers Market, which he claims have since been rectified.

"Little Italy farmers market is one of the most, if not the most profitable places to street perform in San Diego," commented Joe Dreamz. "What I will admit to was that when I used to perform in the middle of the market, sometimes the volume would be loud enough to make it a little challenging for vendors to communicate with customers. But even when I moved to another spot, by the fountain where there are no vendors and no volume issues, the farmers market continued to call the cops on me."

Myers does admit to calling the San Diego Police non-emergency number twice in the past, hoping the SDPD could persuade Joe Dreamz to lower his speaker volume. One of the calls resulted in Joe Dreamz receiving a noise complaint, but he has since continued to set up within the market's permitted area until this past weekend when he was informed by a police officer that he no longer could legally do so due to the temporary restraining order.

"I feel deeply for Brijet," explained Joe Dreamz. "Getting death threats is NOT okay. And I hope she is safe. Yes we have our differences on this issue but overall she's a wonderful manager and Little Italy is lucky to have her! I do not post videos for the 'purpose of harassment'. I too have received threats and wearing a body cam protects me from potential acts of violence, false accusations and it is legal to record in public."

Historically, the Little Italy Mercato has been a welcoming space for street musicians and performers. Prior to the pandemic, Myers regularly scheduled musicians to perform at the weekly event.

"We used to book music every week until COVID and just never got back to it since it's a ton of work to try to schedule musicians," explained Myers. "We would have totally booked a guy like Joe, it's upbeat and fun music. I'm literally a child of the 90's, of course I like rap. It's really nuts that people are saying I just don't like the music. We just cannot have a situation where people are showing up with huge speakers 10 feet away from people selling oranges to make a living and turn the volume all the way up."

Myers has made it clear that her actions were not rooted in personal issues with Joe Dreamz. Rather, she stated that she received complaints from area residents, market vendors, and even other buskers about the loud music. She claims her intention have simply been an attempt to maintain peace and harmony due to her responsibility to farmers market vendors, customers, and the community.

"Residents were constantly complaining to me about his volume, shoppers would complain to me that they couldn't hear the vendors, neighboring businesses were complaining to me, and he would set up next to other buskers and turn his volume way up to get them to move so then they started complaining to me," said Myers. "It honestly turned into my full time job just trying to manage his volume."

Both Myers and Joe Dreamz have expressed a desire to amicably resolve the situation, but it has been complicated by the actions of outsiders who believe they are supporting Joe Dreamz. Myers has been forced to disable comments on the Little Italy Mercato's social media channels due to the influx of negative remarks.

"My goal is to be able to perform in peace and that would be great if there was a way for Bridget and I to build a bridge (no pun intended)," continued Joe Dreamz. "And for the result of this case to help pave the way for the next generation of San Diego street performers to be able to live their dreamz."

A court hearing on the temporary restraining order is scheduled for November 9 at 9am in Department C-61 at the San Diego Superior Court. At the hearing, a judge will decide to either drop the restraining order or extend it.