First - overwhelmingly, without question, they need to come down. If I had my druthers, I'd pull them all down and let the historians sort them out. Sand down Stone Mountain. Tear them down.
In their place, I would put a plaque or a marker indicating that there was a statue here, something similar to what Mayor Landrieu said in his speech:
"[This statue, and many others like it across the United States were erected] as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. They are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for."
For the particularly notable bad dudes, like Bedford Forrest, I'd make sure to list their atrocities and make it clear how bad dudes they were.
Over time, I'd also look at erecting statues and monuments to slaves, to those that have fought across the span of American history for the cause of freedom and righteousness - the opposite of what those statues stand for.
In some rare - so rare as their names are blanking - cases, where there are statues of figures who were truly repentant after the end of the Civil War, who went on to fight for the rights of freed African Americans, who displayed true remorse, I'd re-erect those statues, but only on the battlefield where they fought, and with a plaque detailing the above passage from Landrieu, noting their efforts after the war.
And the rest? Well, that's a problem. Because you want to tear them down. I want to even melt them down. I want to erase them from our history. And I understand that impulse. We want to tear these statues down and tow them away. But as I've been saying all week - the statues have less to do with the Civil War and more to do with the period we don't like to talk about. So here's what I propose -
We build a park.
I'm not sure where we build it. Perhaps it's an addition to a Civil War museum. Perhaps it's part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which has - from everything I've read - dealt well with confronting the bleakness as well as the hope. I'm not sure.
But we frame the addition with the history of the statues, connecting them to Jim Crow, to acts of terror, to genocidal lynching, to the pogroms and the erasure, and the role those statues played in those years of terror. We describe the debates over "heritage not hate," culminating with the Charleston shooting and the Charlottesville riots and the move to pull the statues down.
Then, after all that, you give the visitor the option of going out into the "sculpture garden" where some of the more prominent statues are kept. You make it a beautiful park, with flowers and landscaping from across the South, from the regions ruled, invaded, and conquered by these men represented by these statues.
But you put the statues on their sides. You bury them in the dirt so they only go up to the waist. You allow artists to repurpose them into pieces. If those artists want to melt them down, so be it.
But above all, you make it so visitors look down at them. Not up. Never up again.